Firm or Department — which would you work for?


You’ve just graduated college and you’re ready to start your career as a public relations practitioner.  Do you choose to work for a PR firm or a PR agency?

To begin one must know the difference between a department and a firm.

Basically the difference is this…

PR firm (also known as an Agency) represents clients.  For example, The Publicity Agency “represents ordinary people who find themselves at the center of big news stories”.  Not everyone has a public relations representative when they need one.  They could also be hired out by an organization.  It’s essentially outsourcing for PR.

In contrast, PR department is housed within a company (in house PR department), represents that company, and spends that company’s money.


So which is the best place to start a career?

There are advantages and disadvantages of each.  Here’s my take on it:


A PR firm is horizontal.

If you’re young, love excitement and a fast-paced environment, a PR firm might be just the place for you.  You will gain experience quickly and find yourself building a large network with professionals, which is great especially if you’re looking for rapid advancement.  Networking and variety is a given because you will be working with different companies, organizations, people, etc.

The most frequent services provided by public relations firms according to THINK Public Relations are:

  1. Marketing Communications
  2. Executive Speech Training
  3. Research and Evaluation
  4. Crisis Communication
  5. Media Analysis
  6. Community Relations
  7. Events Management
  8. Public Affairs


A PR department is vertical

A PR department offers a slower paced environment as well as allows for a deeper knowledge of the company in which your doing PR for.  What the PR practitioner is able to do often depends on the size of the organization.

According to THINK Public Relations, common divisions found in large corporations include:

  1. Media Relations
  2. Investor Relations
  3. Consumer Relations
  4. Consumer Affairs
  5. Governmental Relations
  6. Community Relations
  7. Marketing Communications
  8. Employee Communications

So, if you’re starting your career as a PR practitioner, I think it is more beneficial to go with the firm because I think the breadth of knowledge that you will obtain in such a versatile environment far outweighs the depth of knowledge that one will obtain in a single department with it being so specialized.  Find out what all is out there, make your connections, get well rounded, then….settle into a specialization or the particular department that you’ve discovered interests you the most.











  1. seravirginia Said:

    I really liked the way you discussed this chapter in our book. Actually, I feel like I learned more from your post then reading the book myself! You did a great job of highlight the most important facts about each in a clear, concise way.

  2. […] Comment 9 […]

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