Choosing Your Career Path: In-House vs. Agency

Agencies and in-house PR/marketing departments each have their pros and cons, and either can provide a tremendous experience for aspiring marketers.

The following are some of the differences between in-house and agency work that I have experienced:



Scope of Attention

In-house employees know the ins and outs of the companies they work for, as their attention is completely devoted to one company and its clients. This expertise enables even the most junior person to bring value to the company. In an agency, the time spent with clients can vary, and contribution may be project specific. Publicists tend to be generalists, and their company-specific knowledge pales to that of someone in-house.

Variety of Work

In-house, the variety of one’s work is limited to one company, while publicists in agencies have their hands full with the campaigns of various clients. The plethora of clients allows newcomers to experience many aspects of PR that come with servicing different accounts, while in-housers only experience the strategies that their company employs.

Requests of Clients

While the agencies service businesses and individuals who entrust them with campaigns, in-house marketing departments service partners and clients of the company. The greatest liability is always on the marketing department, and not the agency of the firm. Executing an unsuccessful strategy or crisis management campaign may result in the loss of one client in an agency, while the same may translate to the loss of many clients in-house.


The pace of the agency tends to be faster and more versatile than the pace of a company, as many companies mimic their industry. Consider the type of environment you’d like to work in when evaluating whether in-house or agency is right for you.

About the Author
Marina Tsipenyuk is marketing professional with experience in the financial services, music, and beauty industries. She graduated from Rutgers Business School in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. Marina has worked in the marketing department of a fund of hedge funds and interned in a Public Relations firm during her time in Rutgers. Connect with her on Twitter via @msipen.

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10 comments on “Choosing Your Career Path: In-House vs. Agency

  1. Great article! I think you created a really valuable resource for people, because as you said, it’s really important to consider the type of environment that you’ll immerse yourself in every day of your life.

  2. Marina, thank you very much for this detailed analysis of agencies and in-house. I’m currently working in-house handling everything marketing related, and have been wanting to explore the other side in agency world. However, most agencies don’t seem to evaluate the depth and experience from an in-house person. Have you had any experience or suggestions transitioning from one to the other? And how can agencies benefit from in-house person?

  3. @Evelyn – I can definitely relate to your situation, and although I can’t claim to be an expert, I think that agencies would definitely benefit from having someone with experience in-house – especially when the the person has a great understanding of the industry that the agencies are servicing. Anyone in-house has the competitive advantage of understanding what a company, or industry, cares about. I think that the best way to set yourself apart is to leverage the skills you have attained at the company you work in along with extensive knowledge of the sector, while keeping in mind the needs of the agency and what would benefit them. I noticed that a good resource is always looking through case studies on an agency’s website in order to learn their approach and how you can bring value to them. I truly hope this helps, and good luck in your search 🙂

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