After nearly 10 years and two in-house marketing management positions I decided to leverage my business knowledge from the client side and make the jump to the dynamic world of agency life. While this transition is rare, and typically the other way around, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Though my background is in public relations, both jobs prior to landing at an agency were geared toward general digital marketing. Previous bosses often advised me against working at an agency due to the time commitment and workload. None of them had direct agency involvement, and my former positions required significant time outside the standard workweek, so I never really understood the pushback.
However, I will admit that advice made me cautious in my latest career move. Working for an agency is often demanding and requires hard work, but when you’re in the right environment, you get out of it what you put in.
Companies appreciate the ability of an agency to quickly grasp business issues and recognize the pressures they face every day. I have thoroughly enjoyed the exposure to different accounts and the challenges that come along with them. The experience obtained in a corporate marketing environment has been a huge help during the transition and enabled me to identify and speak the language of our diverse clients.
When in-house, I became familiar with customer and press relations, time management and account service, especially through promotion of the company’s services in various markets. Having an awareness of the effect corporate policies (i.e. politics) have on project development and delivery from the client side has also allowed me to be more effective in strategic planning. Furthermore, working alongside certain agencies, as projects warranted, gave me an understanding of how they operate.
For me personally, going back to my PR roots was a natural progression when switching to the agency side. I had the big picture view, with an appreciation for how many areas of a business work. While I led the marketing department, I was also involved in other areas, and gained a deeper appreciation for my role knowing that what marketing does influences many decisions throughout the company. Corporate managers and board members see agencies as either an extravagant expense or a valuable addition to the business. This serves as an advantage to someone in my position to understand the stress that marketing and accounting departments are under, which in turn translates to the crucial decisions made by an agency manager.
For those just starting out, it’s essential to take an internal audit of current PR strategies. This has been a large part of my transition. What’s working? What’s not? Assess the firm’s strengths and the best services it can and should offer clients.
Externally, meet with current clients to find out what is working for them, what they would like to see more of and how the agency fits within their goals. How can the agency bring freshness to a client’s brand and image?
What makes a company reassess their brand and marketing strategy? Play on your own experience here, such as a lack of lead generation, lack of publicity (or bad PR) and/or community relations. What would make them want to partner with your firm?
Public relations management is not without its challenges, but the rewards make it all the more worthwhile. When I finally decided to make the shift over to agency, I knew inferno was the right place for me.
In the ever-changing world of ad agencies, the people, culture and work truly matter. Being part of a firm that gives so much and is so involved in the community is something that really pulled me here. I feel like everything I’ve done in my career so far has led me to this point, and I couldn't be happier having made the transition to an agency.
Originally published Apr 30, 2014 3:58:01 AM, updated July 28 2017