Navigating PR: Corporate, Agency, or Non-Profit Public Relations

It wasn’t until I joined the National Association of Black Journalists that I really got to dabble deeper into the world of journalism and public relations than the average Mass Communications 101 course had taken me. While I had learned the importance of multimedia journalism and the importance of writing, the futuristic part of me was itching to know what life looked like past these introductory courses. What is public relations, REALLY? How does one say, go into public relations exactly?

Public relations is both specific and broad; relationship management is the core of PR, but that alone can be done in both the public and private sector, corporate offices, agencies, or in non-profit organizations. Each of these areas manages public relations activities differently. The sooner students or professionals switching industries can understand the differences in each, the sooner they will learn their fit in the world of public relations, or if public relations is even the right fit for them professionally.


Working in corporate means one thing: money, money, money. BUT…that doesn’t necessarily mean money for your pocket. In corporate public relations there is more money to be allocated to public relations for internal and external functions of PR. As a result, departments such as crisis communications and corporate social responsibility. “Internal functions of corporate PR can range from employee social media, such as a blog, to an internal newsletter highlighting employee affairs. External PR for corporations can be vaster and include numerous messages to various publics.” Being provided a larger budget allows more opportunities for strategic public relations tactics to be implemented by larger teams.



On the contrary, non-profit public relations have a big mission to share with the world and limited funds to do so. However, the benefit of non-profit public relations is that non-profits have what Ad Week defines as “perceived inherent credibility.” Public relations practitioners are generally perceived as pushy, over-worked, and “spinners” of the truth. By doing public relations at a non-profit agency there is a lot of work to do with limited people to do it all; however, the public is generally receptive and interested in getting involved or donating to the organization.



Last but not least, public relations agencies… these vary and can be seen as small boutique public relations firms or start-up agencies that have grown into full-blown corporate-sized pblic relations departments. Agency life is fast-paced and constant. Work-life balance is minimal and it is essential to be able to write, write well, and write quickly. According to PR Daily, in PR agencies “Public relations professionals get to make stuff happen. We’re never waiting around for the story to break. We’re out and about, building buzz.”

So if you have decided you want to go into public relations it cant hurt to do significant research into the kind of public relations you envision yourself being comfortable in and satisfied doing. The sooner you know, the better prepared you will be to tackle the industry!

Andrea Masamaba 4460-002


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