In-House PR: is the grass greener? (Or is it just a different type of grass?)

In the hectic whirl of PR agency life, the rapid pace and multiple clients mean the pressure’s always on.  If they get a spare moment, agency people often wonder about working client-side.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a truly in-depth understanding of one sector, rather than being stretched across several?  How marvellous it would be to concentrate on building relationships with one select group of journalists!  And how wonderful to be the person driving the campaign from the inside, rather than having to battle your way to gaining recognition as an external supplier.

The reality, of course, is that working in-house presents a whole other set of challenges.  Talks with our client-side friends reveal a need for patient diplomacy and dogged tenacity to win hearts and minds (not to mention money) in support of PR.  They also speak of a sense of belonging that you don’t get in agency life – the opportunity to live and breathe the brand.

The buck stops here (exactly where you’re standing, actually)

In-house PR teams vary in number from one person in a standalone role to teams of ten or more.  Usually, though, it’s a small team and you’ll be the PR island in a sea of other roles all competing for budgets and resources.  You’ll become known as ‘the PR person’ to whom all media-related enquiries are channelled.  It will also be solely your fault if you’re not nailing the coverage.  In-house, while you’re more likely to leave the office on time, you’ll also probably be ‘on call’ and have the press office phone diverted to your mobile at least some of the time.

It’s who you know…

If you’re working in a large organisation you need to form strong networks so people will keep you informed about what’s going on.  Agencies are usually brought in at the final stage of a project and asked to ‘make it famous’, without having any actual input at development stage.  One of the great things about working in-house is being part of that initial development process, advising how a project might fly from a comms and media perspective, but to get involved like this you’ve got to prove your worth to the people who matter.

Meetings, meetings and more meetings

You will spend an extraordinary amount of time in meetings.  Some of this is crucial to build your networks and unearth stories.  Some meetings are, frankly, a total waste of time but you need to be there to fly the PR flag.

PR’s place on the agenda?

In agency you live and breathe PR.  No-one has to be persuaded that it has value or is worthwhile.  Even at pitch stage, the decision to invest in PR has already been made.  In-house you’ll find PR is an enigma to many, they don’t really ‘get it’ so it’s your job to convince them to get behind a campaign or idea.

Proving you’re not ‘fluffy’

If you’re sitting across the boardroom table from the ferocious chairman, CEO or other C-level person, you’ll need to have your wits about you.  You constantly need to prove that you deliver value and you’re not ‘fluffy’.  Keeping people informed about what you’re up to is crucial, even if you feel like you’re ‘bigging yourself up’, if you don’t tell them, no-one else is going to.

Missing the banter

Despite the pressures of PR agency life, in-house PRs miss the banter and the lively exchange of ideas.  Larger companies (the size that hire in-house resource) tend to have a ‘corporate’ culture which can be a shock to the system after the buzzing, high-octane, swearing’s-fine, glass-of-wine-at-your-desk-at-6.30, turn-the-radio-up-I-like-this-one-anyone-fancy-a-dance agency environment.

Want some? 

So, if the world of in-house PR appeals to you and you’re a motivated, tenacious diplomat who wants to get under the skin of a brand and find out how the real world works, come and have a chat and we’ll see if you’ve got what it takes!  Email us at

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