Why PR in an Integrated Agency Rocks

Michael Bourne, my colleague at Mullen, wrote a blog post recently at relentlessPR about working in PR at an “Ad agency.” I’ve had the pleasure of working at both PR-only shops and integrated agencies, including Mullen. So I’ve experienced both sides of the agency fence. There are pros and cons for each, but in my opinion, working at an integrated agency rocks.

Stretching isn’t just important for runners. Being around other smart folks who look at marketing challenges from a completely different mindset stretches you to think beyond traditional PR tactics. There is incredible work going on in other disciplines that gives me ideas for my clients that I may not have thought of otherwise. So being exposed to this work makes me smarter.

Not everything that’s contagious is bad for you. The energy is just different in a full-service agency, primarily thanks to art directors, copywriters and digital and design types. Different disciplines attract people with very different personalities, so you end up with a wonderful mix of passionate people. This isn’t to say that there aren’t PR-only shops with great energy. But I think the vibe is different in most.

It’s as good to give as it is to receive. Working in an integrated shop makes people from all disciplines smarter and better at what they do. People know when you bring value to their clients, regardless of what department you’re in. There are two advertising teams that regularly invite me to their brainstorms. A couple of our digital media folks invited me to a chat about a new campaign and one of my ideas is central to what they are now proposing to the client.

While this environment and the opportunity to be exposed to and think about things beyond “traditional PR” may get my motor running, clients are the ones who ultimately benefit from this level of collaboration across areas of expertise. As Michael Scott from The Office would say, “it’s a win, win, win.” I win. Mullen wins. Clients win.

What about you? What do you love about working at an integrated agency or your PR-only agency? If you’re on the client side, what are your thoughts on working with an integrated vs. PR agency?

*Image from Jason Rogers.

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