The UK General Election - 4th July 2024


Career stories

How a public sector career helped me thrive in an agency setting  

by Lucy Taylor

Having worked exclusively in the public sector, I had never really considered working in the private sector, let alone in a communications agency. However, having started my career working my way through several social care-focused charities, moving on to an Adult Social Care research unit and finally managing strategic communications for a Local Authority’s Adult Social Care services, I was left not really knowing what was next for me. I knew I wanted to continue working in social care and contributing to the sector however I could, but I was ready for a new challenge, and a way to get more direction, growth, and excitement out of work. 

Joining PLMR has been a breath of fresh air in that regard. I feel enabled to carve out a direction for myself both in terms of the applicable skills I develop and the career growth I am encouraged to achieve. I have also really been able to see the benefits of all my previous roles in public sector life as I apply the skills and experiences I have picked up along the way to different aspects of my role.  

Now that I am on the other side of the interview table (read: nerve-ridden Zoom conversation) I realise this is no coincidence: PLMR really value and take into consideration people’s individual interests and experiences, both personal and professional, from the outset. This makes for really well-informed, expert teams but also a motivating work environment with lots of knowledge sharing and drive across teams. 

When joining PLMR, I had a lot of comments from people about agency life being stressful (including more than one horror story!). You can imagine I was therefore a little nervous about the impending change. It is undeniable that things move at a faster pace, but in what I have found to be a supportive environment, I actually really enjoy the more dynamic pace and the fact that every day is different. In fact, the variety and creativity of agency life often feels less stressful to me than some of the structures and processes I came up against working in-house.  

On a fundamental level, I also think that the binary between agency and non-agency life is not as dramatic as it is made out to be – long hours and busy workloads fluctuate and can appear in agency life or in-house; but ultimately, you are still working as part of a team towards a common goal to provide a great service for your end user.  

Everyone will have different motivations and criteria for what they want and enjoy in their working life, and some people will prefer in-house life where others will prefer agency life. But I would advise anyone who is interested in joining an agency not to be put off by myths or other people’s experiences – as long as you do your research properly into a prospective workplace, ask lots of questions, and think carefully about what it is that you want to get out of that particular role, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a go. 

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PLMR’s crisis communications experience is second to none, and includes pre-emptive and reactive work across traditional and social media channels. We work with a range of organisations to offer critical communication support when they are faced with difficult and challenging scenarios.