Agency vs. Corporate: What’s Right for You?

nullBy: Chrissy Tansey, President

If you’re a soon-to-be graduating senior, it’s about that season to start panicking about your career path. Do you want to start off at a
PR firm in the city? Would you rather seek out communications opportunities within a huge corporation? Are you totally lost and don’t even know where to begin? Before deciding where to work or exactly who to work for, there are two important factors to consider regarding types of public relations jobs. The following insights will help you figure out which type of work setting is right for you.

Agency

Companies and brands will hire PR agencies to do a variety of public relations tasks for them, such as campaign work, news releases, media placement and more. A PR agency has a variety of clients that can either fall under a specific category, or range among many different topics. Here are a few important aspects of agency life.

  • Wide Breadth of Clients: As an account executive at a PR firm, you can potentially be working on several clients at the same time. You will get experience working with brands at different ends of the spectrum and will have to appropriately adjust to the wants and needs of each client.
  • Essential PR Experience: At an entry-level PR position at an agency, you will have the opportunity to learn all aspects of public relations work. You will likely be asked to conduct market research, write news releases and blog posts, assist in planning events and other various tasks towards client support.
  • Fast-paced Culture: As a client’s needs constantly change, PR agencies are expected to adapt. Creative juices are always flowing, and there is never a dull moment. Whether it is meeting a bumped-up deadline, working until the late hours of the night to finish up a project, or redoing a rejected campaign, you will always have something to do.

Corporate

Unlike agencies, working in-house for a corporation allows you to focus on the company alone. A corporation’s PR department acts as the liaison between the company’s brand(s) and the public. As an entry-level PR specialist, you will be expected to become an expert on company goals and ways to communicate these ideas to the public on a long-term basis. Here are some aspects of in-house PR work.

  • A More Narrow Focus: If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of handling several clients at once, in-house PR allows you to put all your focus on the company that you are working for. This gives you the chance to really immerse yourself in the brand and fully understand it. Even if a corporation handles several different brands, company goals are generally aligned among each of them.
  • The Face of the Company: When crisis hits or major events spring, a company’s communications team acts as the face of the company. It will be your responsibility to take any necessary measures to act on behalf of the company. You will also have the opportunity to interact and work with high-level executives in the company to ensure that your plans are consistent with company objectives.
  • Structured Work Schedule: In a corporate environment, all employees typically work within the same range of hours. Without having to adjust to the schedules of external clients, you will have a better chance of working a normal 9-5 workday. However, certain events and times of year will always be busier than others and may require you to put in extra hours.

Although both agency and corporate work settings involve similar types of day-to-day tasks, there are several defining characteristics of each to consider. When it comes down to it, the best way to figure out which direction is right for you is to test the waters in both agency and in-house public relations. Regardless of the path you choose to kick off your career, you are sure to get experience that will help you develop as a PR professional.  

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