I started my public relations career at an agency. I did all of my college internships at agencies, except for one. I’m currently working – guess where – at an agency. Perhaps I could call myself a glutton for punishment. What do you think?
I can’t speak otherwise because I have yet to garner in-house/corporate experience, so please do take everything in this post with that understanding.
As I’m acclimating to my new position with KNB Communications specializing in healthcare technology, I’m looking back on the variety of experience that I’ve gained through all of my previous positions, and how I can apply that experience here. One question that keeps popping up in my head, and probably always will, begs: Is it better to work for a multitude of different clientele in different industries, or is it better to focus on a single subject matter in the agency world?
After giving it some thought, I can definitively say for myself, one is not better than the other. Rich said it well: “Both have benefits.” Just as some work cultures are a better fit for some, the same goes for a varied client base vs. focused industry specialty.
Here are a few pros and cons I came up with if you just so happen to be grappling with this same topic. Would love your thoughts as well!
Variety of clients
- Almost always busy, day flies by
- You can delve into a number of different subject matters creating connections across many media and potential client/new business platforms
- If one client subject matter doesn’t thrill you, you can always take a break with it and switch to another client for a fresh topic
- Multitasking is a required art form in PR. Doing it between a variety of client subjects is a skill that very few actually possess
- It’s rare to have the opportunity to work with the same reporters on a regular basis to develop valuable relationships
- Most likely, your colleagues are also “Jacks of all trades,” leaving the team without a point person on the management level that is knowledgeable about every facet of the client’s business – especially if it’s a difficult subject matter such as investor relations, finance, real estate, etc.
Focused Specialty Clients
- You have the ability to learn everything about the client and the industry from A-to-Z, becoming a bit of a subject matter expert
- In becoming a subject matter expert, on-boarding with clients can be streamlined. There’s less of a learning curve
- You can dedicate your time with media outreach to building lasting relationships as you are in touch with these contacts on a daily/weekly basis
- The subject matter can fry your brain. Not only are you just covering one industry or subject, you’re doing it over and over again for different clients.
- If you or a client burns any bridges with target industry media, it’s not fun. If a client backed out of an interview last minute, or you misdirected an email about a reporter to the reporter that says less-than-glowing things, you’re in big trouble (don’t put that kind of thing in an email to begin with…goes without saying)
- Fatigue. I’ll admit that this one has gotten me previously. Similar to one single subject matter frying your brain, you can start to get hungry for variety if you’ve had it previously. Does the saying “the grass is always greener” have a place here? I think so.
Of course, all of the above can be a case-by-case basis. These are simply my experiences to-date. If you were to ask me which I prefer, I honestly couldn’t give an answer. What I can say is that I’m grateful and fortunate to have gathered as much experience as I have at different agencies both that focus on a single subject matter and that have a variety of clientele.