For those seeking to work in public relations, not only are there varying roles within the industry, but there is the option to work ‘agency side’ or ‘client side’. The PR industry in Sydney is filled with long-term ‘agency people’, those that have always worked in-house, and some who have tested both sides of the fence to see where the grass is greener. Therefore, there is a long-running debate in the PR and communications industry: “Which is better: Agency or in-house?”
Inevitably, there are major differences between agency and in-house roles, with pros and cons for each in terms of work-life balance, culture, pay and career progression. We list them below.
- Working in-house, a PR manager is closer to their organisation’s marketing program and its stakeholders. This enables them to learn – and be involved with – various aspects of the organisation, and get PR ideas approved more easily.
- In-house roles within larger organisations tend to attract higher salaries than agency roles.
- Working in-house can provide a PR manager with better work-life balance and more incentives and rewards.
- Working for a well-known brand directly can look very good on a CV.
- In-house PR managers often have the opportunity to bring onboard and work with external agencies, who become their outsourced team.
- Many mid-sized companies who have an internal PR function have only one or two PR people in their marketing team. This gives the PR manager the opportunity to take on a high level of responsibility, and to shape the PR function.
- A ‘client side’ PR manager works only on the one brand. This may be a con for those who love variety.
- Working on the one brand will also mean they’ll be working only on the PR disciplines that are relevant to that brand – for example, media coverage and stakeholder communications. This may be a disadvantage for those who want to grow their PR skills across different disciplines – such as social media, events, activations and crisis communication.
- If a PR manager is the only PR person inside the organisation, there is a risk he or she may feel isolated within the organisation, and will feel the need to continually educate other departments about the value of PR, and how it is measured.
- Running a PR program for a single organisation for some time can feel repetitive if the company isn’t innovating in its marketing or its industry
- In a small in-house PR department, the opportunities for promotions can be slim.
- There are few ‘client side’ PR roles available and they are highly competitive.
- Working ‘agency side’ will give a PR consultant exposure to a variety of brands and industries, and a variety of PR disciplines. This enables the PR consultant to grow quickly in a relatively short space of time.
- An agency can move PR consultants between accounts annually to avoid the PR work from feeling staid or repetitive for its consultants.
- Many agencies offer bonuses to their staff for bringing on leads that turn into business for the agency.
- PR consultants in agencies have a strong team of peers with which to brainstorm ideas, collaborate on strategies, share challenges, and generally discuss day to day issues.
- The fluid structure of an agency allows for quicker career progression with ample opportunity to rise through the ranks – and sometimes very quickly. The independent environment will mean PR consultants will manage and mentor juniors as they progress.
- PR people with an agency background are in high demand for in-house roles. That’s because clients know that agency people have worked hard, have a record of getting things done quickly, have a proven record of delivering results, and are guaranteed to deliver under pressure.
- Consultants in PR agencies need to operate at a fast pace, work hard to achieve results, and thrive on some stress. While the experience of working in such an environment is great for one’s PR career, this isn’t for everyone.
- As agencies hold multiple clients the demand for work to be completed according to various deadlines presents a lesser opportunity for work-life balance. Agency working weeks can be long and may require late nights in the office from time to time.
- Agency salaries are often lower overall than those on ‘client side’, especially for junior roles. However, this is outweighed by the potential career growth rate available in an agency.
At The Ideas Suite, there is always the opportunity to work on something new and exciting. As a boutique Sydney PR agency, we only work with selected clients that we are devoted to. With a minimum of three PR consultants on every account, there is the opportunity for each consultant to invest their time strategically across several clients, as well as collaborate creatively with hard-working, like-minded and self-motivated individuals. We balance a lot of plates, but as an agency that cares wholeheartedly about its staff, when it comes down to what you’re looking for in a career, the opportunity to experience different roles as you climb the PR ladder is hard to pass up.