I believe it would be more beneficial for a brand new public relations practitioner to begin his or her career in a public relations department rather than in a public relations firm.
A PR department is a section of an already established business or organization. Within the one company, there is a department that focuses solely on the public relations aspect of the business.
A PR firm is a company that works for many different companies or organizations on a case-by-case basis.
Advantages of a PR department would be that the group working for the company within the department already knows everything they need to know about the company. They don’t have to learn anything new in order to get their job completed. They also can be fully focused on the situation because they aren’t concerned with another company’s problem. Other advantages include not having to reveal certain ‘secrets’ to an outsider, and that a company will pay less for a PR department than if they were to ask an outsider to do their PR work for them.
Disadvantages of a PR department would be no new and fresh perspective. However, if a company hired a PR firm to work for them, then this new outsider would be able to view the situation with a new perspective and be able to offer different insight. A PR firm offers extensive resources, a wide variety of skills and credibility. However, the downfall to a PR firm is that the firm may not know everything about the situation and will have to be briefed more so than would a PR department. Also, PR firms have multiple clients so it would have to break up its time between clients.
I think that a person looking to start his or her career in the field of public relations should begin in a PR department. This is solely an opinion, but I feel like working in a department would be an easier way to get started and to learn the ropes of what it’s like to work in PR. A person would gain more experience working for a firm and could then move to working for a firm if that was his or her desire.