PR, Films and Fantasies

View from the Other Side @cipr

Posted on: November 3, 2010

Last night CIPR Midlands had a small meeting to discuss a very controversial issue that I personally find more and more intriguing with graduation on my doorstep and with the need of a career plan growing as everybody is asking me “what next?”.

Do you love your in-house communicator role or is agency life your passion? What are the main differences between each discipline and how easy is it to make the transition from one to the other?

Agency or in-house? A view from the other side…

I got to Willoughby PR (the host of the evening) around 6pm and was welcome by some very lovely ladies and in a very PR-ish style Diet Coke and yummy food was waiting for us. There were quite a few last minute cancelations but in the end the group turned out to be a very dynamic and diverse one, with representatives of Willoughby, McCann and Giraffe Comms (if I got the name right) from the agency side and many in-house specialists including the Army!!!

We had two lovely speakers, both with an amazing agency experience which then led to another incredible in-house background. Now, they were both in public sector organisations.

Cait Allen, Head of Media and Stakeholder Relations, started by presenting us the benefits of in-house: better pay, longer holidays, very flexible schedule, being directly involved in the development of the product, higher position, less dependency on other’s decisions, direct contact with CEOs and MDs. At this point I was absolutely thrilled and already imagining myself in a big position at the NHS or maybe some Gov Secret Department, but then she said: “I miss agency soooo much!!!” and I was back in the mist.

Cait went on explaining why the agency environment was so dear to her and that maybe with a good opportunity she would return to it. First of all it was the camaraderie: working in teams, in a busy office with a dozen of others your age and your style, the friendships that were created, the small talk, the moaning, the family style atmosphere.

Then the creativity: Cait claims that agencies are a lot more creative than in-house as with so many brains in the brainstorming, having dealt with so many different clients, amazing ideas can be born. You also have the resources (Gorkana, Mediadisk, and budgeting software – they came as a natural thing in agencies, but not with all the in-house jobs), the freebies (merchandise, cookies and cakes), the funny teambuilding…

Our second speaker was Claire Deeley, regional marketing manager – West Midlands and Wales for the British Army. She also had many years of amazing agency experience but she told us that by being with the client she learned so much that if she would go back to agency, there are many things that she would do differently: make more decisions and don’t leave it to the client, keep a direct and warm relationship with the client, keep in mind that most of times the client knows the industry a lot better than the account exec in the agency.

Overall, both ladies had the same conclusion: if they would have to hire somebody in their department, they would only consider those who already have some agency experience. They consider them more dynamic, more creative, permanently up to date with the latest technologies and trends, fast workers, more efficient and with a commitment of explaining each penny they spend.

So I guess agency it is… at least for now!


5 Responses to "View from the Other Side @cipr"

Agency… or consultancy?

To be honest I have been thinking about the difference between agency and consultancy for quite a while and couldn’t actually realise what it was…. so any tip would help 🙂

I think that in the end they do pretty much the same thing and it’s just a matter of management… I guess consultancy sounds more professional and agency would be more practical and direct. Hard to explain…

People use the terms interchangeably, but there is (or should be) a distinction.

Agency businesses (ad agencies, estate agencies, model agencies etc) work for an agency commission – a percentage of a negotiated sum.

Consultancy businesses (management consultancies, chartered surveyors etc) work for an agreed fee.

Some in PR view themselves as working in agencies, but the industry body is called the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA).

If you think about the difference in general, that would be it. But in PR, for what I have seen lately, thinks merge many times.

That’s why even last night at the CIPR everybody used both without even realising. I guess the difference would be between those who work more on a project-based schedule and those who are in charge with an account on a longer period?

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Doing Media Studies, oana_jinga. oana_jinga said: differences between PR agency and PR consultancy ?? […]

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