Swimming Across the Current — Moving from In-house to Agency

It’s a well-known trope in agency life: At a certain point — after you’ve paid your dues, worked long, adrenaline-fueled days, and immersed yourself in as many industries as you have folds in your brain — you’re likely  to transition in-house. This is generally the path that makes sense, but a few of us here at Bateman have transitioned the other direction, myself included.

Three years ago, I was working in the marketing department of a company called Get Satisfaction. PR hadn’t crossed my mind as a career. I didn’t know anything about agency life, except for the limited touchpoints I had from working with our agency, Bateman Group (see where this is going?).

I enjoyed the work we did together. The messaging and storyline sessions were creative, energizing and meaningful in our quest to develop and communicate the company’s identity. And the media attention we received caused greater spikes in our web traffic than any other initiatives. So when a VP at Bateman Group reached out after I’d left that job to go traveling, I was intrigued.

It’s now been more than a year since I’ve been at Bateman Group. And, yes, I have some thoughts as to what it looks like on each side of the agency divide. Here are the biggest reasons I’ve become an unapologetic agency girl.

The diversity of clients is key for curiosity junkies — Working on a variety of accounts in disparate industries forces me to always be learning, reading, and thinking about the world in new and different ways. It also means that the people I’m interacting with on a daily basis are doing the same. Agencies (the good ones, anyway) are hubs of intellectually curious, hard-working people. It’s tough to beat  from a coworker perspective.

Access to leadership — Perhaps my favorite part of this job is having access to our clients’ leadership teams for brainstorm sessions or download interviews. Whether we’re talking about key industry themes that we can tap into for our pitching, or a CEO’s personal journey, these conversations are inspiring and informative. If you’re at a small enough startup, you also tend to have access to the leadership team, but the breadth of executives we work with provides a fascinating range of perspectives on how people build their careers and become great leaders.

Influence with the media — I’ll admit it; I’m a journalism geek at heart, and if it had been easier to land a reporting job when I graduated from college circa 2011, my career may have gone a completely different direction. But I still love having the opportunity to talk to my favorite reporters, understand their interests, and act as a resource. Sometimes this involves promoting my clients, but often it doesn’t. As any good PR pro will tell you, being helpful is more important in the long run than plugging clients constantly.

The ability to be creative, in all of its forms — PR is a really creative job. Writing bylines, drafting press releases, and coming up with pitch angles that cut through the noise in a reporter’s inbox are the very best kind of challenges (it’s why we give every interviewee a writing test before we make an offer). But there’s also a very real problem-solving element to this job that forces you to think in new ways.

Looking at that list, it’s clear to me how much I’ve learned over the last year, and how happy I am with my decision. I’m not sure I’ll be at an agency forever. There are definitely days where a calmer, more predictable job is definitely appealing. But as my colleagues will tell you, predictable is boring. So for now, I’m all in.