Clash of the Careers: Deptartment Vs. Firm

15 Feb

Image Credits: "Arms Crossed" by Winston Davidian

The world of PR is incredibly expansive. It is a job with diverse functions and a wide range of opportunity. Most people think of firms when they think PR (at least I did anyway) but many companies have their own PR sector. So, the question is, which is better for launching a career in PR, a department, or a firm?

I would personally rather work at a firm. Some companies group their PR department into other categories when they are not a lot of people in their department, and many departments call on firms for more extensive and elaborate events.

The life within a PR firm is fast and exciting because of the variation of the projects vs. representing one company. While the starting salary tends to be a little lower, PR firms look for professionals who can bring a lot of variety to the firm, such as when they need to be called upon for writing skills or helping a company with a speech for a campaign.

Here are some of the advantages of working at a firm from Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics that appealed to me along with my commentary:

  1. Objectivity:  At a PR firm, you get the opportunity to look at a variety of companies, from car manufacturers to banks, and help with endeavors without being locked into the company. You get to dabble in several projects with several companies.

      2. A Variety of Skills and Experience:  In a firm, you can polish your skills as a writer and as a   counselor from the opportunities that arise. There are also several boutique firms that specialize in particular aspects of PR, from health and beauty PR to crisis PR.  

     3. International Jobs: Firms have many resources that may lead to international opportunities, sich as with the Olympics.

    4. Credibility: Since firms hire people with diverse skill sets, working at a firm increases one’s credibility as a PR professional and gives you the ability to grab attention from people in the corporate community.

 Working at a firm does have its disadvantages. For example, by working with a corporation for one project under such limited time, you only scratch the surface of what that corporation is all about. Another disadvantage is that corporations may decide that working with their internal staff is more economically sound than hiring an outside firm.

When I think of a PR firm, I personally think of boutique firms, but perhaps it is because of my interest in beauty PR and event PR. I have been swept away by glamorized PR firms that exist in fiction. The book Everyone Worth Knowing, penned by the same author as The Devil Wears Prada, works PR out to be a life of constant schmoozing, fancy dinners, and seeking out exclusive clubs where you spend all night rubbing elbows with celebrities, this all somehow promoting Blackberry. The gang also gets flown off in a private jet to Turkey to help promote it as a travel hot spot. Their itinerary includes hot stone massages and more partying.

While the book is not quite the accurate depiction, PR can have its perks, and it can still be a fun job that allows you to flex your creative muscles, especially within a firm.

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