A note from Bamboo PR: Today we’re speaking to Sarah Dickinson, a PR connection of Marco’s and Global Communications Director at Canonical – the publishers of Ubuntu.
Marco has known Sarah Dickinson for some years. Every few months, they meet to compare notes on PR and the differences working in-house compared to an agency. Sarah’s kindly agreed to share some of these pointers in this guest blog. Thanks Sarah!
So, what are the 3 common myths with in-house PR?
Regardless of what myths surround in-house or agency PR, the reality is they are often two quite different roles which require different skillsets. Without that appreciation, there can often be unfair judgements or misunderstandings.
Saying that, here are some of the most common myths around in-house PR, especially when managing communications in larger enterprise companies.
This mostly comes from recruitment agencies. You may not have multiple clients when working in house, but you can have a much broader role than just media relations and client management.
For example, when I was at Toshiba, I worked across four European wide divisions, managing 20 PR agencies, plus responsibility for social media, internal communications and sponsorship.
Each of those had their own stakeholders, often per country – product managers, local sales and marketing, HR and so on.
That counts as multi-tasking, right? Yes, you may all work for the same company, but everyone still has their own priorities and conflicting deadlines that need balancing.
Marco says: “Juggling client deadlines, strategic activities, press requests and a team spans every side of PR. Multitasking is one of the important skills any PR professional needs.”
“In house PRs aren’t experts”
In many companies, PR agencies may be managed by a marketing manager or similar. Not to paint all marketing managers with the same brush, but many aren’t experienced in PR, though this does not represent in-house PRs as a whole.
Many in-house PRs are ex-agency anyway, and even those that aren’t can still be very capable and knowledgeable.
Give your client a chance and if they aren’t as experienced as you’d like, use that to provide a greater consultancy role and help upskill them for both your benefits. I’d like to see a less ‘them versus us’ attitude on this.
Marco says: “The best relationships come from working closely together. The end goal should always be the number one concern – getting great press coverage.”
“In-house PR life is easy”
There are many aspects to this myth such as leaving at 5pm every day. The reality is often quite different.
One point which often gets overlooked is that being the in-house PR means you are the one that is ultimately accountable.
An agency will often send ideas – however, they rarely have to select one, stand by it internally and justify whether it is a success or failure.
This principle extends far beyond creative ideas too. I once had a young agency account executive who told me that she’d struggle to work in-house as it must be tough to always be the final decision maker.
It’s quite rare to hear that acknowledgement from the agency side but it is appreciated.
Marco says: “I know this firsthand. Some of our clients shield us from internal pressure and I’ve always appreciated when they continue to motivate us despite what they’re facing.”
About Sarah Dickinson
An experienced communications leader with a consumer and B2B technology background, Sarah’s current role is Global Communications Director at Canonical – the publishers of Ubuntu – where she leads PR, analyst relations, social media and content marketing. Prior to this, Sarah led European PR and internal communications for Toshiba. She can be found on Twitter.