Public relations department or public relations firm? That is the question.
A public relations department is one that serves companies and supports their highest level of management with facing pressures of everyday work and issues. Communicating with the public is crucial and building relationships help reduce costs of regulations, boycotts, or bad blunders.
For the most part, however, PR departments help organizations develop policies and communicate with those outside their four walls. This is great! But depending on the size of the organization, a lot can affect what a PR practitioner might do.
Sometimes, the PR rep might help to write speeches and counsel management, but in my opinion, those types of jobs would go the employees with some sort of seniority. You’d definitely have to work your way up to no longer claim your role as copyboy.
It would be exciting though if you got to sit back and hear the applause of an audience after a rep delivered one of your speeches.
Okay, so what about a public relations firm? (This is where I think it would be the most beneficial for a new PR practitioner to be.) PR firms offer a more broad scope to the things they do on a daily basis and it would give a more valuable experience to someone fresh out of school.
I mean, think about it:
Firms have so many clients with different needs all relating to public relations. It would be a chance to develop different skills and experience firsthand the typical issues any organization would go through.
And not only would someone get that great experience, but they would also have the chance that any PR department could give, which is to write a news release or to organize special events.
So really PR departments and PR firms do the same things, but the outlook is totally different.
They both maintain the company culture, but the scope between them is what changes. A department just deals with one organization, which is great if you want to focus on one organization, but it limits the opportunities to challenge yourself and find ways to deal with different issues. A firm deals with tons of organizations, which is great if you want more experience, but not so great if it gets overwhelming trying to stay consistent with so many missions and visions.
Anyway, it’s up to the PR practitioner, but I’d say stick with a firm and get your hands dirty!