Okay so you’ve graduated from college with a degree in Public Relations, Now What? When beginning a career in Public Relations new practitioners have several options. They can either start out in a Public Relations firm or in a Public Relations department. Each option has several advantages or disadvantages but first lets begin with a general definetion of each.
According to AgencyFinder, A public relations firm (pr firm) is a professional services organization, generally hired to conceive, produce and manage un-paid messages to the public through the media on behalf of a client, with the intention of changing the public’s actions by influencing their opinions. Communications are often in the form of news distributed in a non-personal form which may include newspaper, magazine, radio, television, Internet or other form of media for which the sponsoring organization does not pay a fee.
A public relations department is the section of a company that deals with the relations of the public.
One of the main differences in each of these is that if you choose a PR firm you are able to experience and learn the PR industry in great breadth while in a PR department you experience the industry in great depth. As Susan Johnston explains in Working at a Marketing & PR Agency Versus In-house,
Working at an agency will expose you to a variety of different clients and a breadth of marketing or PR strategies. Some agencies focus on a specific niche (like food products or the fashion industry), while others cover several different practice areas.
Gail Sideman of Milwaukee, Wisc. took a different career path. She started out in sports information, working for several colleges and organizations, then spent about six months at an agency before opening her own one-woman agency, Publislide (http://www.publiside.com ).
Based on Sideman’s experience, “[working in an] organization gives you more responsibility. I think because you’re focused on publicizing the one business, service, or product, you can really get in depth on the different ways to go about it.”
Often you’ll feel a strong sense of camaraderie working as part of a larger company and interacting with other departments. Being an insider can also help you find new angles to pitch to the press or ideas for an advertising campaign that an outside agency might not know about.
My personal plan is to begin work in a PR agency so I am able to experience different types of PR and decide exactly what my area of interest is. Once i decide what area of PR I enjoy the most, I will look for a company that offers this area and move into the PR department of that company.
I think that the decision of whether to work at a firm or in-house depends on the individual and their personal interests. If a graduate knows what area they want to work in then a PR department would be more beneficial but for those who are undecided a PR firm can help them make their decision.