In-house vs agency PR – bridging the skills gap

I attended a PR Moment training and networking event last night on “Future proofing in-house PR teams”Sarah Ogden, Director of 3 Monkeys Zeno, opened with research from a survey of in-house PR professionals.

Some of the headline results were completely expected, such as “in-house PR teams need to be more integrated across all communications” but an increase of outsourcing media relations and copywriting was a surprise.

Hearteningly, 80.6% of the in-house PR professionals surveyed believe PR is becoming more valued as a business discipline

Other interesting findings included…

Top 3 priorities of in-house PR teams today:

  1. External copy
  2. Strategy
  3. Social media

Top 3 services required of agencies:

  1. Activation
  2. Strategy
  3. Content

So, while strategy is still absolutely vital for both disciplines, if you want to work in-house, you’d better brush up on your writing and social media skills; if you’d prefer to work in an agency, examples of how you’ve delivered campaigns and developed content will set you in good stead.

Howard Jones, Head of Comms at EE also shared some insight into the skills he feels in-house PR teams need today.  One phrase that really struck a chord with me is this:

Increasingly, in-house PR teams are being used for brand protection, not brand promotion. We are the only ones with the integrity and credibility to protect the brand.

He also said, “there is a huge difference between the skills required for brand activation and crisis comms but we are all trying to deal with both in one team”.

So which skills does he think in-house PR teams need now?

  1. Data (audience targeting and effectiveness)
  2. Measurement (convincing budget holders you’re worth the money)
  3. Social (specifically how to integrate into activities for protection and promotion)
  4. Content (developing multimedia for traditional and social media)

And which skills can’t we afford to leave behind?


Have you noticed a change in the skills required of in-house and agency teams? Let me know in the comments below.

I’ll be posting another blog soon with more great content from this event, focused on how one global brand is moving away from targeting traditional media to developing and courting social media influencers. Watch this space!