Careers in PR: Agency vs. In House
Whether you’re currently a PR student looking for your next internship or are a recent grad preparing to enter the workforce, it’s important to know your options to pursue a...
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Whether you’re currently a PR student looking for your next internship or are a recent grad preparing to enter the workforce, it’s important to know your options to pursue a career in PR. There are typically two different types of career paths for those pursuing PR: working at an agency or in-house for one company.
Both options have benefits in furthering your PR knowledge and experience. By better understanding the differences between them, you can hopefully understand which one is the best fit for you.
The first way that agency vs. in-house PR differ is their scope, or how varied the topics and skillsets are. In an agency setting, you can work with a wide variety of clients and industries. Rather than focusing on one specific brand, you are constantly managing projects for different companies and gaining experience with all different brand guides to build your skillset.
In-house PR, on the other hand, increases your understanding of a single subject matter. When working in-house, you can deepen your understanding of your company and spend time perfecting one subject matter, becoming the expert in your specific field at your company.
Another difference in the career paths of agency vs. in-house is the way that it helps you develop as a professional. At an agency, you can learn and develop your skills faster, due to the fast-paced nature of the type of work and constantly changing projects. You are also surrounded by like-minded individuals that can help you brainstorm ideas more quickly for projects. This is especially beneficial when you are exploring different aspects of PR, from media relations to visual communications.
In-house PR offers different yet equally valuable career opportunities, enabling you to refine your skills for the long game. By narrowing your focus to only one company, you can better hone your skills in this narrow field and become an expert in the industry over time.
When it comes to developing your network, in-house and agency careers are as different as night and day. Working for an agency exposes you to more clients, helping you grow your network quickly. This is beneficial when getting started in your PR career, as it enables you to not only develop many connections but also get your name out there as a professional.
In-house PR helps you develop deeper relationships within the organization you are working for. This could lead to greater opportunities within that organization down the road. You can also move around within the company to different teams, emphasizing and developing the skills that are most important to you. This narrow focus can help you develop deeper relationships and gain new insights into your field.
Agencies have some opportunities for advancement, but the main avenue for advancement within agencies is by moving into more senior roles within an agency or gaining more experience at different agencies.
On the flip side, in-house PR is more geared for long-term development. In-house positions have the ability to expand their roles into other areas of marketing within the company, which can help you work your way up the corporate ladder if you are willing to put in the time and dedication to one company.
Lastly, leadership roles vary greatly depending on agency vs. in-house. Agencies’ fast-paced development often leads to stepping into leadership roles faster. Because of the ever-growing nature of an agency, there tend to be greater management roles available.
In-house has different leadership expectations. At a startup, for example, you may be the only PR person. While you may not be in charge of many individuals in this role, you are in charge of all of the PR duties of the entire company. This type of responsibility can accelerate your position and credibility within the startup as you have a hand in many areas of the company.
About Lara Tanner: Lara is an Intern for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft also has a small satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft has been listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas for two years running by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.