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Association Communications: In-House vs Agency Experience

October 23, 2018
byHillarie Turner inNational Associations
Association Communications: In-House vs Agency Experience • agency

I like to say that I did my career in reverse. First starting in-house (working internally in communication departments in national associations) and then going to work in an agency. Now, I don’t have any formal statistics to confirm that going from in-house to agency vs agency to in-house is actually the way most people approach their careers but from the many people I have met along the way, I think there is some validity to it.

My focus has been health & science and my positions whether being in-house or at an agency have reflected that passion.

But is there truly a difference between the two? Yes and no.

I have found that the communications department can run as an internal agency for an organization supporting all the different departments from research to annual meetings to publications to advocacy and more. The department can be small but mighty, sometimes bringing in outside PR support, which when working as an extension of the internal team, can be invaluable.

These communications departments work hard! They are balancing multiple projects from different departments throughout the year and then for some, you add in an international annual meeting to the mix. Being part of the team equates to developing a truly varied skill set and the opportunity (and need) to go deep with the membership’s priorities and issues. In the agency world it can mirror working on a large client account, where your team has been fortunate to support year-to-year.

When I made the move to a communications firm, I was excited that one of my first accounts was an association. By previously working in-house, I found that I understood my client’s challenges and opportunities. At the same time, I found that there were differences at an agency, such as working with a variety of clients, the pace, billable/non-billable time, and new business. The skills gained were beneficial and for those who enjoy days that are not the same, agency life is a great fit!

Looking back, I would not trade the trajectory of my career path, it is the collective experiences from both being in-house and at an agency that have helped me find my place in the world of communications and at Van Eperen. What I have found by working here is the best of both worlds, getting to combine my expertise with the agency’s track record of working with associations to help our clients every step of the way. If you are working in-house and find you need external support, Van Eperen is here for you!

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