“I’m agency-side looking for a role in-house”… said a number of people who have called me since I began connecting talented people with great companies. That or “I’m media owner side and keen to move into brand/marketing”. There is (and always should be) robust discussion about the agency and media owner model; burnout and possible solutions to the turnover and cyclical exodus, but for those who are genuinely keen to take that step, here are four experiences and sets of advice from media professionals who have made that leap in recent years and what they have to say about it;
PREVIOUSLY “Senior Partnerships Manager, Media Agency”, CURRENTLY “National PR, Sponsorships & Events Manager”
“I found moving from a media agency background into an inhouse marketing sponsorship type role quite difficult in the beginning. I felt the skillset wasn’t really recognised in house, they kind of pegged you as coming from agency and that you didn’t really understand what was required to go inhouse, even though, as we all know, when you’re in an agency, you do a lot of the work for the marketers in house. It took a lot of interviews and rejection to actually get in house. I found I was going for all these full-time roles and was getting the same feedback so I took it on my own accord to do some contracting in all different industries – some short term event contracts, some marketing contracts in TV (roles that were quite junior compared to where I’d come from), but I found once I did those contracts and got my foot in the door and started to show my experience on the other side, it not only helped grow my network to help find that next job but I also then had it on the CV. To be able to say YES I’ve done marketing in house and YES I’ve done events in house and then once I had that experience on my CV it was really easy. Long story short, the initial transition was quite hard – it probably took 12-18 months contracting to then land some full time inhouse job that was at my level. Then when I was in house it was really different to what I had imagined. In agency you always have this dream that client side is heaven. Then once you actually go client side you realise it has its own complete set of challenges. Previously, I never understood why it took so long for approvals when I was agency side – once I went in house I realised how many layers of approvals were required in doing anything. There’s a lot of stakeholders that you don’t really deal with on an agency level. Not saying either agency or client side is any harder – they’re both just have a very different set of challenges, and I think until you’ve worked both sides you can’t really appreciate the challenges you get on both sides.”
PREVIOUSLY “Senior Media Manager, Media Agency”, CURRENTLY “Brand Strategist”
My experience in moving across to the client-side was not straight forward. One thing that helped me get call-backs and interviews was to change the way I speak and write. Start using marketing terms and shift your focus from being media-centric to customer-centric. Be prepared to deal with rejections, as most companies only want marketers from a purist background; it is hard for them to see the value of hiring an ‘outsider’. Eventually, you will come across a company that prefers to hire a generalist. This company will want you because you have a different set of skills and bring a different perspective to the team.
PREVIOUSLY “Client Lead, Media Agency”, CURRENTLY “Brand Communications Manager”
“So You Want to Go Client Side? Join the queue. The motivations are personal and varied, but the desired goal is the same. So be prepared for a long, emotional journey. As was the case for myself. That said there are some lessons that came to mind immediately;
Commercial – start seeking out true bottom line business impact from your client/s, not just the individual media channel performance or its contribution in isolation. We know in most cases media channels will make themselves look more favourable. We also know that our media can have a greater impact on the campaign or brand than we often get allowed to see.
Cross-functional – the power of this word in CV’s and Applications cannot be under-estimated. Clients are screaming out for people who are capable of managing not just multiple stakeholders, but also multiple departments. This requires deeper empathy than is able to be showcased within the often myopic world of agencies.
Craft – do not underestimate the importance of honing your craft on only one focus area, say digital or data or strategy or similar. IMO specialists are still absolutely valued, but translating that subject matter expertise more widely grows that value exponentially. Especially given the exposure across many more touch-points than one is exposed to in an agency dynamic.
Composure – The job ad or description represents the commitment at that time to a role on paper, but the reality within a client or brand is that everything moves at pace. Much faster than an agency environment. This results in a vast array of other opportunities (and new roles in some cases) that will allow you to flex. So be patient.
TLDR; Prepare for the worst, expect the best.”
PREVIOUSLY “Sales Director, Media Owner”, CURRENTLY “Marketing & Partnerships Manager”
“The jump is so worth it, the world of media is so different to “real world”, although the remuneration may not be the same, if you dive in to an industry you’re passionate it about it will fill up your soul and regenerate your love of learning from week 1. I personally should have jumped earlier but I wasn’t quite brave enough!
When I think about why it took me so long, whether it was fear or a comfort zone thing – I think it was probably a bit of both. I’ve had to learn a whole new skill set (WordPress / Mailchimp ) as well meet as an entirely new network of people. It would be fair to say there was minimal skill transfer. Having said that, if something else pops up I wouldn’t hesitate next time. I now know now I can quickly adapt and so wish I had more belief in myself sooner.”