Public Relations Avenues (Agency v. Profit v. Nonprofit)

By Paul Spooner –  Vice President

PRSSA kicked off its first chapter meeting this semester Wednesday, January 27. With new members come new questions. One overwhelming question that students ask is, what are the different types of public relations? In PRSSA, we discuss agency public relations, corporate/profit public relations and nonprofit public relations among others. Although all three public relations avenues differ in structure, they do overlap.

To start, agency public relations firms are well known for the multiple clients they take on. Some corporations outsource marketing, promotions, and public relations duties onto these PR agencies. In agency public relations, the structure of account executive plays a big role. Account executives (AE) are in charge and responsible for one client. This AE is the sole contact for this client and assistant account executives are there to assist the AE. Fleishman-Hillard, Edelman, Weber-Shandwick, and Ketchum are examples of major PR agencies in the United States. PR agencies may also be smaller entities taking on fewer clients but still delivering the same service.

Corporate communications, for profit PR, is defined as “in-house public relations.” In this type of PR, a corporation does all of the public relations work within the company instead of hiring an outside agency to do the work. Corporate communications often includes public relations in areas outside the realm of company to media communications. Other areas of public relations include employee relations, financial relations, and community relations. Corporate public relations staffs are well known for producing company newsletters.

Nonprofit public relations focuses on fund raising, grant writing, and event planning in addition to press releases, newsletter writing, brochure publication, etc. Nonprofit organizations most often have an executive director that facilitates public relations on top of everything else. In nonprofit writing, it is clearly defined why this organization wants money and for what reasons. Volunteers are what run nonprofit businesses.

Many other forms of public relation are out there, but agency, profit, and nonprofit are the top dogs in the public relations world. Public relations is extremely varied in each of these three areas. Finding internships in all three will allow you to find out which kind of public relations suits you best.


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