Having worked as a paralegal both for the government and in a small private law firm, I’ve been exposed to the differences  in a corporate work setting vs. a private firm.  While researching this topic, it was interesting to learn that those differences continue to hold true in the world of public relations.

Working in a public relations department for a corporation consists of reaching out to both internal and external audiences.  Corporate public relations serves to provide counsel to organizations in managing relationships with various stakeholders and its employees (Benn, et al 2010).  In a corporate setting, a company must work hard to keep their employees working, happy, and informed. Public relations departments often work together with human resources to achieve this goal.  Some of the tasks at hand include managing potential internal company challenges such as sexual harassment issues among co-workers or employee layoffs.  It is often the responsibility of the public relations department to keep employees informed about safety procedures, educated on diversity, and knowledgeable about other company policies.  Crafting appropriate messages and implementing methods of communication about layoffs to both employees and the media, can have a big impact on public opinion regarding a company.   These risks show how important it is to have an excellent internal public relations department that fully supports and understands it’s company.  In addition to effective and excellent internal communications, corporate public relations departments are responsible for maintaining excellent relationships with the public, investors, and the media.

In contrast, when working at at public relations firm you are hired by external sources to provide public relations expertise as contracted.  Typically the work is more flexible, creative and innovative, but balancing multiple clients with different personalities in a variety of industries can be tough and overwhelming.  The expectations are high, demanding, and fast paced but they are also very rewarding (Bramlett 2012).

When deciding on your career path, it is important to consider all of the differences between corporate life and firm life.  Do you prefer to work for one specific company supporting a mission and/or product that you believe in?  Or are you a creative go-getter who wants to branch out and take on multiple work assignments exploring a variety of industries and people?

Benn, Susan, Todd, Lindi R., & Pendleton, Jannett. (October 2010). Public Relations Leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility.  Journal of Business Ethics. Vol 96, Issue 3: 406. doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0474-5

Bramlett, Kellie. (December 28, 2012). The Life of a PR Agency Employee. Ragan’s PR Daily, Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/The_life_of_a_PR_agency_employee__12330.aspx