Last year I joined the Spurwing Communications team, a healthcare PR Agency in Singapore as a Senior Account Executive, having spent the majority of my career as a communications advisor within an organisation of almost 2,000 employees.
Now, almost one year into being part of a tight-knit team of communications consultants at Spurwing, I have had the time to reflect on the difference between agency and in-house work and how my perceptions have changed.
Brand Advocacy and Internal Culture
For five years I lived, slept and breathed a brand, partly as I was responsible for employee engagement and corporate messaging, but it was also a natural reaction to being surrounded by the company’s mission and having hundreds of colleagues working towards the same cause.
I had always assumed that working in an agency would keep you from feeling connected to a “greater goal”. At Spurwing, however, we make it a priority to become an extension of our client’s organisation. We spend time gaining a deep understanding of their business, from the company mission to their customers and internal teams. We get to work with whole range of experts and I enjoy helping them achieve their goals, because they become our goals too.
Keeping on top of broader industry news and movements is essential for an agency. My knowledge of the healthcare sector is now richer, and I believe I can make better communications recommendations as a result.
We also have our own culture and brand. The Spurwing team is small but we work closely together, we have our own set of shared values and spend time outside of work to get to know each other better. Spurwing values a healthy work/life balance, something else I was sceptical an agency would offer, but to deliver high-quality work to tight deadlines we focus on operating effectively and managing our time well, rather than working long hours into the night.
Variety and Expertise
Every client has different needs so we never approach a task in the same way. The variety keeps my day-to-day job interesting, and from a development point of view it gives me a chance to continually learn and build on my experience. Working in a large in-house team I was becoming incredibly specialised and often felt that I wasn’t making the most of my skillset.
Having now experienced both sides of the fence I don’t think either is “better” or more valuable, but I am glad to have worked in-house because it helps me understand our clients’ point of view. I think it’s important to have a team with a mix of backgrounds as being a good communicator is just as much about training, breadth of experience and having the right approach - all of which can be gained from both sides.