Two Roads Diverge

Topic of the Week 6
Public Relations Departments and Firms

Public Relations Departments or Public Relations Firms? Is there really that much of a difference? The answer is yes! Make that definitely yes!

Which Path Will You Choose?

In my opinion, it would be most beneficial for a new PR practitioner to begin a career in a PR firm. First off, the importance of the public relations firms are growing at an extremely rapid rate.  Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics, “forecasts that the public relations industry will grow 11.1 percent though 2010.”  This is because American corporations are becoming more interested in outsourcing their PR services to outside contractors. In addition, the text states “Today about 90 percent of corporate and institutional advertising is handled by agencies rather than by in-house departments.”  This means there are more opportunities for jobs and advancements within PR firms.

Secondly, PR firms offer extensive variety on the job because agencies are involved with several clients and projects. This variety also allows for advancement within the field and the ability to gain skills at a faster rate. Even though PR firms offer more to choose from, budgets and resources are traditionally lower than those in corporate PR, where salaries are much higher at entry level. However, the credibility gained within a PR firm is very valuable. For example, “A successful public relations firm has a solid reputation for professional, ethical work. If represented by such a firm, a client is likely to get more attention among opinion leaders in mass media, government, and the financial community.” Therefore, after gaining experience with a PR firm, higher salaries can be reach by moving to corporate PR because of the high credibility gained within the agency.

Advantages of Departments
Important component in the “big picture
Get to know the organization very well
Less daily pressure
More resources available
Higher salaries, more benefits

Disadvantages of Departments
Jobs more difficult to find without experience
Little variety
Growth usually limited
Not much time for networking with other PR professionals
Not a lot of coaching by peers, strength in all areas expected

Advantages of Firms
Fast paced, exciting
High amount of variety
High amount of networking with other PR professionals
Opportunities for mentoring
Rapid growth in firms

Disadvantages of Firms
Intense daily pressure
Limited budget and resources
Low salary at entry level
Seldom see the impact of your work
Less resources available

To find out more information or explore to the world of PR for yourself check out Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron.

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