Moving in-house - good, bad or ugly?

01 Jun 2017

In our experience we have found that the majority of PR and communications professionals who are working in an agency want to make the move in-house if they have not already done so. However we believe in the importance of making a balanced decision when considering an in-house move. Here we highlight a few ideas to consider when planning on transitioning your career in-house.

Why do so many PRs want to move in-house?

We often come across a ‘grass is greener’ ideology in the in-house vs agency question. It is vital to keep in mind the key positives and negatives of working in-house in order to make an informed decision. The positives include that you would be at the heart of the strategy development in the business. The benefits of representing one brand allows focus and a deep knowledge, and working with one ‘set’ of media. In-house is also often perceived as an easier life – although in truth this is not the case and comes with a very different set of challenges. The downside of working in-house is that it can be very politically challenging – if you do want to move in-house, you need to make sure it is to a business which believes in communications and understands your value. You may also find it is slower to progress and that you might need to move to another in-house role to gain the promotion you desire.

Have you considered all the angles?

In coming to a decision on moving to an in-house role from an agency role, have you fully considered the implications of what the day to day reality of working in-house would be like? Some useful things to think about are -

Will there be opportunities to develop and move up?
Will you gain the experience you need to secure your boss’s job?
Who are you learning from? Are they any good?
How much proactive work vs reactive is there?
Will you have the ability to do great things with the budget at hand?
What’s the attitude like towards communications in the business?
What are the gaps in your expertise and how can you fill them?
Do you like the internal stakeholders?

When is a good point in your career to move in house?

We have found that transitioning into in-house is especially effective the further PR professionals are in their career as you have developed your basic communications skill set. Many Account Directors move into a PR Manager position which is something we have found to be very effective, and also agency Associate Directors and Directors flourish in in-house Communications Director roles. We have also had experience of agency Directors entering as Heads of Comms, but typically this is something which is usually harder to achieve unless you are high profile and likely to be working as a Partner or MD of a business.

Think big picture

Be careful not to pigeonhole your prospects by your choices – if you join an in-house technology company for example, it might be that you are perceived as a tech specialist when you want to move, which is ideal if you want to stay in the sector but more challenging if you don’t. Perhaps most importantly, the question to pose is, will this job take you closer to your ultimate job? Don’t just think about this next move but the one after- what will the impact of the move be further down the line? It’s vital to always consider the bigger picture in your career.

What’s your view on careers in-house vs agency? Tweet us @theworksrecruit #IHvsagency. Also read our recent blog ‘How to fast-track your career’ where leading PR professionals discuss in-house and agency life.

The Works Search specialise in placing mid to senior level PR and communications talent in leading PR agencies and in-house organisations across London, on both a contingency and executive search basis. For our latest roles visit our jobs page, or contact the team on 0207 903 9290 to discuss your career in confidence.

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