Both, according to a presentation given to the PRSSA chapter at UTSA by two local PR professionals.
Kathy Hill, principal of KHILL PR and me, Fran Stephenson, Principal of Step In Communication, offered students a different look at these two areas of public relations practice. While both of us have worked in agency and corporate communication settings, Hill’s experience is rich with local agencies, while my focus has been corporate communications.
We focused on three key areas to share with a dozen students from the student chapter.
The Way We Work
Corporate communicators often work with longer time lines and create strategic plans for more continuity. They have established teams, goals and ways of working together.
Agencies have more fluid teams as groups are convened and disbanded based on the immediate client workload. They are often called in to help with short term planning and project management and serve on more than one team at a time.
The Relationships We Build
On the agency side, PR practitioners often have excellent external relationships, particularly with members of the media. Their corporate counterparts, on the other hand, have deeper internal relationships and a deeper knowledge of their company “subject.”
The Lifestyle We Lead
Corporate communicators have a more stable income, but can be resource challenged in their company. They usually have benefits including the standard stuff like health, 401K, etc, but also a predictable work environment.
Agencies, on the other hand, often turn over projects quickly, so you have to get up to speed on a client’s business quickly, help solve their problem and move onto the next project. Longevity in an agency can be less predictable because it’s client driven, but the rewards are learning about multiple industries and clients.
The students who attended the presentation were surprised at the similarities and differences to these two types of public relations careers and got a glimpse of what they might do in the future.