In-house, out-house, dog-house?

May 26, 2008

For a few weeks now I’ve been thinking to myself: “At what point does an agency PR go in-house?” Like most of my articles, I found my inspiration whilst relaxing in a very nice little boozer. I was talking to a chap over a few halves when he revealed to me that he had been working in-house for ten years. That means his first job fresh out of university was to go straight into an in-house role.


It got me thinking, why didn’t I think about working in-house when I first started? I’ve always thought that in-house roles were for those who had had enough of the often frenetic agency environment, settled with kids and generally wanted a quieter life. Of course this is not true, in-house comms teams face just as much turbulence as their agency counterparts and, for some companies, it can be a daily battle to protect reputations. I also failed to consider the fact that junior jobs (like the ones I do for my agency) need to be done in-house too, so someone must be doing them.


So, over the last few weeks, I’ve been casting my mind back two years and thinking if I could choose a different route and go in-house, where would I go?

Firstly, I considered whether the company would be interesting enough to lose myself in, would it be a constantly shifting challenge and would it consistently have a high media profile. The list narrowed quite considerably. But anyway, here they are:


·         Arsenal Football Club – I’m a big fan, so no explanation needed

·         BBC – Arguably Britain’s most successful brand and one which would be a never-ending challenge

·         MOD – With some of my clients, past and present, I have seen a fraction of the technology the MOD is developing and to think about what might be going on behind closed doors, it would certainly get me up in the morning

·         The Mayor’s Office – Come on, any explanation needed? I wrote my dissertation on the devolved body and like to think I know it inside out. After nine years of quiet but steady consolidation, exciting times surely lay ahead.

And really, that is about it. With such a small list, I would really like to hear from people who have gone in-house at a junior level, why they did, what they like about it and if they would ever consider trading it all in and going to an agency.


I think there is a tendency from agency PRs to think in-house is the place to go once they’ve exhausted themselves, so now is your chance to prove them wrong!


The floor is open:


4 Responses to “In-house, out-house, dog-house?”

  1. Jed Hallam Says:

    Excellent post and it’s interesting to see the changing perception about in-house PROs.

    I went straight into an in-house role from university, so I have first hand experience. Working in an in-house role has allowed me so much freedom, I’m the only PRO in the company and so I have a free reign over everything!

    Myself and Lewis Webb have spoken (and blogged) about this at length and analogised (Mr Webb with more success) about both in-house and agency life.

  2. Craig McGill Says:

    I went from newspapers to in-house (Lloyds TSB) and have been in agencies for the last two years and while agency can be a lot more frustrating, it also keeps you fresh and pushing yourself.

  3. Katy Says:

    I went in-house straight from University and am now in my second job. When I was looking for my second job I spent quite a while debating between inhouse and agency. I haven’t got agency experience so it’s hard to compare, but I definitely enjoy getting to know the organisation properly, getting to understand the people, structures and politics going on. I think that, as a junior PR, I get a lot more exposure to senior people being in-house than I might do if I was an agency account exec…

    Also, if your salary is coming from the company you are representing, that’s a good incentive to make sure they do well – their success is your paycheck, and you care more about their reputation when it’s yours also.

    Some of the feedback I got from recruitment agencies was that at a junior level you get to do more in-house, as instead of sorting out cuttings for 6 clients, you’re only doing one set, leaving you more time to move on and learn skills for more senior roles earlier on.

    I would definitely consider moving into an agency for my next job, purely to get a bit more ‘buzz’ and exposure to different sectors/media areas, but I don’t think in-house is the easy or slow option at all.

  4. Andrea Says:

    I went in-house first which taught me a lot about the priorities, politics and demands of a corporate environment. Now working in an agency, I can draw on that experience to help prioritise my work and keep clients happy.

    What I like about in-house is the chance to really know the business and its corporate strategy inside and out and therefore ensure that your efforts are aligned to that strategy. Too many agencies measure their success in column inches, when really, the focus should be on the quality rather than quantity. And unless you really know an organisation, you are probably less able to judge what rates as quality and what doesn’t.

    I like both, but I know I’ll have to go back in-house to get the opportunity to do the level of work I want to.

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