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Navigating the PR Landscape: Agency vs Corporate Roles

By Kristen Case on August 14, 2023

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Three people work together and discuss the latest client campaign.

Public relations professionals often choose between working at a PR agency or a corporate role. Each option offers distinct advantages and challenges, catering to diverse skill sets and career aspirations. 

Let’s explore the differences between agency and corporate roles in PR, drawing from my experience as a practitioner with experience working in agencies.

Client Variety 

One of the most significant distinctions between working at a PR agency and a corporate role is the range of clients handled. Professionals manage diverse clients from various industries at an agency, exposing them to multiple industries and challenges. With experience working at two different PR agencies, I have been exposed to an array of clients, from tech and fitness startups to established beauty, fashion, design and lifestyle clients. This exposure to a variety of clients has not only made every day exciting but also prepared me to handle the unique needs of a variety of different kinds of clients.

On the other hand, a corporate PR role revolves around a singular brand or organization. Though it lacks the variety that agency life provides, corporate PR professionals dive deep into the company’s values, products, and mission. This in-depth focus on a single client allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the brand, resulting in long-term strategic planning that aligns with its vision.

Pace and Workload

Agency life is renowned for its fast-paced environment, with professionals often juggling multiple clients and projects simultaneously. This fast-paced nature fosters agility, time management, and the ability to handle high-pressure situations. My role as a Digital Marketing Account Co-ordinator has demanded meticulous organization and the ability to prioritize tasks effectively. While the fast-paced nature can be demanding, the exhilaration of meeting tight deadlines and achieving results makes the role immensely rewarding.

In contrast, corporate PR roles often offer a relatively stable and consistent workload. While there may be busy periods, like product launches or major announcements, the pace is typically more predictable. It can provide a balanced work-life schedule, allowing professionals to plan and manage their time more effectively.

A work team smile and laugh as they huddle together to celebrate a client win.

Work Environment

PR agencies provide a vibrant and dynamic work environment fostering strong camaraderie among team members. As a new grad, my primary motivation for pursuing agency roles was the opportunity to immerse myself among fellow PR professionals, learn from them and grow together. The guidance and mentorship from experienced practitioners have helped shape my career and nurtured my growth in PR. Furthermore, agency roles facilitate extensive networking through interactions with colleagues, clients, journalists, and industry stakeholders.

In contrast, a corporate PR role often entails being the sole PR practitioner in a company or operating within a small dedicated communications team. These roles involve close collaboration with internal departments like marketing, HR, and legal. While the environment might be less lively and varied, corporate PR professionals often bear greater responsibilities than their agency counterparts.

Conclusion

Ultimately, both paths can lead to fulfilling and successful PR careers. Choosing between an agency and a corporate role depends on individual preferences, aspirations, and career goals. Whether one chooses an agency’s fast-paced, diverse environment or the in-depth immersion of a corporate setting, the heart of a successful PR career remains a passion for communication, a drive to create meaningful connections, and a commitment to nurturing the reputations of the organizations they represent.

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