Chapter 5 of the book Think Public Relations refers to a PR practitioner starting out in a PR Department or a Firm and the pros/cons of these jobs.
In a Public Relations department, the jobs vary depending on the company. Some PR jobs would focus on marketing communications, while others are working as communication specialists. It seems like a job in a PR department would be much more difficult to find, unless one has already had experience. In a PR department, salaries are usually higher and medical benefits are also better as opposed to a firm where the benefits can be minimal. Working with a firm would mean an individual is working with the same people and the same clientele all the time, which could become boring, although I don’t feel a job in PR could ever get that tiresome.
In a Public Relations firm, the job is a bit different because each company provides a different type of service depending on their clientele. These firms give counsel and carry out technical services. Some firms work hand in hand with a certain organization, or they may work conducting the entire endeavor. Some of the services provided by PR firms include marketing communication, media analysis, events management, public affairs and financial relations. A PR firm is never the same and there’s usually quite a bit of variety since you’re working with different people and projects. A firm would also yield the way for networking with other professionals, leading to better job opportunities, which is where the disadvantage for working in a department comes in.
From what I’ve read, it seems like someone beginning in the PR field would do better starting out in a department. This would give them the knowledge and experience needed if they wanted to work at a firm. Working in a department would put an individual in a more specialized field, resulting in learning a deeper amount of skills. On the other hand, working in a firm would provide a wide range of skills, but it would be better suited to someone who has much experience already in the PR field. Personally, I would choose to begin in a department setting and then work in a firm later on.