Today’s guest post is written by Jeanine Black.
Gini Dietrich recently wrote about the pros and cons of working for a large or a boutique agency. It made me think about the same arguments for agency vs. corporate sides.
There is green grass on both sides; deciding which side you like best is key.
I have worked at a small marketing/PR firm, as a freelance writer and consultant, and now as the only in-house marketing professional for a CPA firm with 70 employees.
I have not worked for a large agency or organization with huge in-house departments, and don’t represent their perspective here.
I do, however, strive to find some commonalities that I believe would pertain to all organizations, big or small.
Since taking the job at the CPA firm four and a half years ago—a great opportunity for me, personally—I have often wondered if I made the right choice professionally. Has it made me “soft?” Has my creativity suffered? Will I ever be able to re-enter the agency world if I decided to try?
To say I haven’t pondered the pros and cons of each, at least daily, would be a lie. But I decided to focus on the positive aspects and allow you to draw your own conclusions.
The Agency Side
- Variety of clients and projects. Moving from pediatric healthcare to retail/grocery to industrial tubing in one day keeps you sharp.
- Fast-paced. It’s hectic, insane, and it increases your blood pressure; but when it goes right, it’s exhilarating.
- Opportunity to learn different disciplines. We wear a lot of hats in smaller agencies: Media relations, crisis communications, community relations, promotions, marketing communications, and more.
- Work with like-minded people. In essence, you are surrounded by people who think like you and understand you.
- Everyone understands what you do for a living. Even with four and a half years at my firm, I still have to explain to some friends and family what I do. But, at work, I’m surrounded by people who know exactly what I do.
- Opportunity for advancement. I know many PR/marketers who have made it to CMOs, partners, principals, and VPs of Marketing at their organizations, but the opportunity to grow with an organization and become a partner/owner, I believe, is greater on the agency side.
The Corporate Side
- Non-billable. There are no quotas or added pressure and competitiveness.
- Schedule is essentially 8-5. That doesn’t mean we don’t work more than 40 hours; there just isn’t an expectation to do so.
- It’s nice to be the client. For those who went from the agency to client-side, I actually think we make AWESOME clients, because we understand what the agencies are experiencing and what they are capable of doing.
- No day is ever the same. This is the one thing that really shocked me coming over. I thought I would be bored and unchallenged. If you look for new opportunities to be creative, you can make anything interesting and exciting—yes, even accounting!
- No one understands what you do. Okay, no one is an exaggeration, but many don’t. It’s frustrating, but this can actually be a positive because they depend on you and your skills that much more.
Agency vs Corporate
Essentially, both sides have their pros and cons. For me, it was a personal, as well as a professional choice. I don’t regret it one bit. But I often wonder what it’d be like to go back, and if I’d be able to.
What is your experience with this?
Jeanine Black is the marketing coordinator for Akron-based CPA firm Bober Markey Fedorovich with more than 12 years of marketing and PR experience. Prior to joining BMF, Jeanine worked as a freelance public relations consultant and writer. She also held positions with Fine Point PR and Wirtz Integrated Marketing, both in Akron.