For the past 5 years I’ve worked as an account executive in an in-house position for a consumer tech company. Ready for a new challenge, I scouted out the agencies in Cambridge and started work at KISS last week. And boy was it an eye-opener.
My timekeeping is not as good as I thought. I’ve never had to think about how I spend my day before. As KISS uses timesheets, I’ve had to learn how long it takes me to complete the most mundane of acts.
There are some schools of thought that may argue that timesheets are a thing of the past, but I’d have to disagree. After a week of doing them I’m more aware of my time, more productive and less likely to get distracted. I also know how long I’m spending on my clients and how that relates to what we’ve agreed.
PR is the same. Even some of the systems we use are the same. Calling and pitching to journalists is the same. The only difference is that when you’re in-house you’re probably speaking to the same journalists and publications over and over again about similar things. In agency life you’re speaking to different journalists in different sectors about different products. It’s much more challenging and also much more rewarding.
Prioritising is hard. When you’re juggling 3 or 4 clients, all of whom have varying needs, it can be difficult to work out where you should start. In-house it’s easier to prioritise, you have a clear hierarchy in place, which you can use as a guide to organise your work. If the CEO gives you a project to work on, that probably takes priority over everything else. With clients it’s a different story: you have to balance all the tasks you have to complete alongside the amount of time, which has already been spent on a client.
Agencies have a much faster pace of life. This isn’t to say that in-house is quiet or boring, just that agency life feels faster and more frenetic. With a multitude of clients in sectors as broad as science, technology and education, no two days are the same.
Your team will still impact your day-to-day. You might all be working on separate clients, constantly on the phone with other journalists and barely able to speak more than two words at a time to your colleagues, but it’s the people you work with who will remind you why you chose to be in PR. Whether it’s hearing a well delivered confident phone pitch from across the table, proof-reading a thought leadership piece, or rejoicing in securing that elusive piece of coverage, your colleagues will set a high standard to step up to, and unlike in-house, they’ll all be in the same industry as you.