We’ve had discussions about the subject of this blog post quite a number of times with individuals about to graduate from college or graduate school, or who have recently graduated from such programs. There’s no blanket right or wrong answer, but we’ve outlined below the pros and cons of working at an in-house marketing department vs. a digital marketing agency, advertising advertising, or PR firm to help you figure out what’s right for you.
Pro’s and Con’s Of Working In A Corporate Marketing Role/At In-House Marketing Department
We’ll start with the Pro’s!
- Your work is focused on the needs of one organization (and possibly some affiliate organizations) only. That means you can really get to know and understand in-detail the specific opportunities and challenges your organization faces.
- You or fellow in-house marketing department team members are responsible for the successful execution and oversight of each and every marketing & communications tactic, including PR. Even if your organization employs an external advertising agency, digital marketing agency, or PR firm, you or someone in your organization will need to serve as the liaison with that external organization and review and approve any marketing or PR tactics with which the organization has been charged.
- Because an in-house marketing team tends to hold regular meetings to discuss the various marketing and communications activities on which each team member is working, even if you aren’t responsible for a particular activity, you have the big/full picture of all the active and planned/future marketing and PR initiatives for your organization. You also have the opportunity to learn a lot during these meetings.
- Depending on the size of your in-house marketing department, you may have the opportunity to learn how to execute a large variety of traditional and digital marketing tactics, and how to analyze the results of them.
- You’ll likely have a chance to collaborate with individuals in other departments related to rolling out new marketing initiatives, such as IT and Customer Service employees.
- There’s usually an obvious career path, particularly if the marketing department is large. Often the path is from marketing coordinator to marketing specialist to marketing manager to marketing director to chief marketing officer (CMO) or Vice President or Senior Vice President of Marketing.
- Your manager is usually aware of everything you have on your plate, will likely not expect you to regularly stay late or work excessive hours, and will likely delegate an appropriate amount of work so that it can be accomplished during normal business hours. Related to this, there will likely be fewer unexpected marketing and PR emergencies!
And now, the con’s!
- While also stated above as a pro of working in a corporate marketing department, you only get to develop and execute marketing activities specific to one organization (and possibly its affiliates). That means you only get to complete marketing work related to one particular industry. And, you don’t get exposed to innovative marketing tactics and results tracking that are used in other industries that you could apply to yours.
- Depending on the size of your marketing department, there may or may not be opportunity for growth or to take on new responsibilities.
Pro’s and Con’s Of Working For A Marketing Agency or PR Firm
Post the arrival of the internet, there’s now so many different ways that individuals refer to what used to be known as an “advertising agency” or “ad agency.” Agencies specifically focused on implementing digital marketing strategies, such as website, online advertising, e-mail, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media ones, are often referred to as “digital marketing agencies.” Agencies that offer both traditional and digital marketing services (you can learn more here about traditional), tend to call themselves or be called ad agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing agencies. If a firm specializes in creating branding for websites or overall marketing use, including logos, they are often called “branding firms,” “branding & design firms,” “brand & design firms” or simply, “design firms.”
There’s also the option post-graduation to work at a PR firm, or “public relations firm” or “public relations agency.” While PR firms tend to focus on external communications and work may include press release writing, event execution, and pitching stories to media reporters, an overlap between ad agencies/digital marketing agencies that developed as result of the introduction of social media networks has to do with social media strategy development and execution. Both marketing/ad agencies and PR firms tend to offer “social media voice” services.
Phew, that was a lot of terminology! On to the pro’s of working at an agency or firm that serves marketing & communications clients.
- You get to learn about the marketing & communications challenges of numerous industries, and then, can apply best practices from a client in one industry to a client in another industry.
- You are always learning and being exposed to something new, as even if you have several clients in one industry, they still each have their product & service nuances, ways of doing business, marketplace/competition, etc. that you need to understand.
- As with an in-house marketing job, your agency likely will hold regular meetings to discuss everything that the agency has on its client work plate, so there should be lots of opportunities for learning.
- Agencies tend to encourage brainstorming which is always a lot of fun and keeps the creative juices flowing.
- As with a corporate marketing role, there likely will be a career path at whatever marketing agency or PR firm at which you work. You might start out as a coordinator or specialist (doing day-to-day/hands-on tasks to support a particular client), but eventually have the opportunity to become an account manager or vice president. In those latter roles, you likely will have more interaction with the client.
- As with in-house marketing jobs, the diversity of your role and your work will depend on the size of your organization. The bigger the organization, the more specialized your role will be; but, regardless, you should still have the opportunity to learn about a number of tradtional and digital marketing tactics and results analysis best practices.
- If you have direct interaction with clients, you get the satisfaction of feeling like a member of their team — clients become your co-workers along with any agency co-workers you may already have.
And, now the cons of working at a marketing agency or PR firm:
- Clients often have marketing and PR emergencies. This may cause you to need to regularly rethink or re-jigger what you planned to accomplish on the work front on any given day.
- Because you aren’t a member of a client’s in-house marketing team, you may not always have access to all the important, beneficial, and business-critical information you want or need. Of course, you can ask to have information shared with you, but sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know, and clients may be so busy they forget to share with you.
- You may not be able to enjoy the same satisfaction you would get from being involved with or aware of each & every marketing and communications tactic that an organization has planned or has implemented. You don’t always have access to or see the big picture as clearly as if you worked in-house at the client.
- Ad agencies, branding & design shops, and PR firms tend to be pretty fast-paced and you may need to work long hours, or suddenly change social or personal plans because of an unexpected client emergency.
We are pleased and proud at Results C & R to have hired and taught numerous college and graduate-school students and post-graduation individuals about what it’s like to work at a Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company. We love passing our marketing and PR knowledge on to the next generation and enjoy brainstorming with individuals interested in pursuing a marketing career to help them figure out what type of marketing & communications might best support their interests, passions, and lifestyle.