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Where Should You Work: a Boutique PR Agency or a Large PR Agency?

Are you wondering about the pros and cons about working with a large PR agency versus working with a small boutique agency? Gini Dietrich wrote an excellent comparison on her blog, Spin Sucks and reading her post made me think about my career choices over the years. Though I haven´t worked with a large PR agency, I did work for several years in the different departments of a corporation, the last one being PR and communications.

What did I learn from working with a corporation? Working in different departments of the same company, allowed me to know the business at its core and to understand it. To say I learned a lot would be a big understatement. Working in that corporation shaped me as a professional, but it also helped me discover what deep down I knew I wanted to do for the rest of my life: PR.

So, four years into the corporate world and I got the chance to work in a PR department. There I discovered “the hustle.” I learned how to handle several projects at a time, how to do account management, how to coordinate teams, how to spot interesting opportunities and make the most out of them, how to talk to the media, the stakeholders, the board members and so on.Not an easy task! But I had fun, I had great colleagues and a wonderful boss, who knew when to encourage me and when to let me loose.If I were to go back in time, I wouldn’t change anything. There were ups and downs of course, but those were the times that shaped me as a PR pro and made me fall in love with this profession.

The most valuable lesson learned: to work in PR, you need common sense!

What about a small company? Fast forward 6 years later, I find myself in another country managing the customer care office of a small company.

What you learn in a big company, moving from one department to another, you can learn faster in a small company. Working in a small company is like working with an extended family, it allows you to get involved and understand the work of each department.

You get to do customer service and project management, write or rewrite the internal procedures and quality policies. You get to hire the team you want or let go of the unproductive ones. You are closer to the CEO and learn how the business is run. You learn pricing and how to “smell” the market. You get to work in marketing and contract negotiation, you learn to manage your time and your team’s time. You grow and your limits stretch.

So, what is the best choice? In large companies (corporations), jobs tend to be quite specialized and depend on the market, on HR policies and many other factors. Unless you change departments, after a while, you find yourself doing the same stuff every day.

On the other hand, though you might have a great job, with lots of learning opportunities, at some point all that changes and becomes about “internal politics”. You have to learn how to handle them to get things done (aka your job). Unless you have a great boss (like I had), you get swamped in departments´ “fights” and lose the big picture: the great projects you implement, the satisfaction to have helped a client, the pleasure to have worked with a great team and do what you love (PR in my case).

Don´t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with working in the same job doing the same stuff everyday. Au contraire! There are people out there who love it.

It´s just not for me. I like the hustle. If I stay in a company, I have to believe in its values, mission and vision. I have to learn everything there is about the way it works: from sales and customer service, to budgeting and human resources, to PR and marketing.

If you know how a company works, you can come up with improvements, apply new ideas and implement new techniques.

It´s easy to say “I am a large agency person or I am a boutique person”, but, in the end it´s all about what you want to do, where you want to be in your career, what goals you want to reach and more importantly, what you see yourself doing.

If you are like me: you can’t stay put and are always looking for the next challenge, you’ll want to experiment with both, you’ll want to learn as much as possible and grow as quickly as possible.

Now it´s your turn! What did you choose: a large PR agency or a boutique one? And, more important, why? Please comment below.

Are you craving support and mentorship to launch your career in public relations? Do you have what it takes to work in this fast paced field? Stick with us. We get it. We can help! Working in public relations is an exciting industry and we have designed an online course and mentorship program to help you launch your dream career (available across Canada). Register here. 

Corina Manea is a PR professional, social media strategist, founder of NutsPR and client service manager for Arment Dietrich and SpinSucks. This article was republished with permission from NutsPR. Connect with Corina on Twitter

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