Public Affairs Strategy | How to manage a successful PR campaign (Part 2)

There are many stereotypes in PR, and these can often affect where people will choose to apply for a job. Those breaking into the industry after tertiary education must face the decision of either joining a major or a boutique public affairs firm. It is clear that there are many differences between the two, some being subjective, while others are objective, and despite the pros and cons of each, they are both rewarding.

Here are 3 major differences between big and boutique PR firms.


Working at a large public affairs firm, you may need to be cooperating with a global team that has members working in different time zones, or answering to a client who lives on the other side of the country and who you’ll most likely never meet. This can be overwhelming for some.

Furthermore, with more people working at a large agency, it is more difficult to gain importance and stand out among all the employees, and requires a lot of work. At a smaller boutique public affairs firm, you become visible to your superiors almost immediately.

2. Access

At a boutique public affairs firm, it is far easier to get harder work in a shorter amount of time. This is great for someone looking to dive straight in and learn on the job. The CEO at a smaller agency is also more accessible and generally more open to engaging with the employees. Large public affairs firms have a stigma of the difficulty for employees lower down on the chain of command to have access to the CEO. This is often due to the higher workload that comes with managing a larger business.

3. Skills

At boutique agencies, while it can be easier to get work, there is far less guidance and mentoring available as everyone is working hard at keeping their job. Larger agencies on the other hand work in teams, with more people available for mentoring and guiding you. As such, working at a larger firm will ensure that the skills you are learning are correct as any incorrect self-taught information will be amended by your mentors.

Often times you will only get the account to work on at a smaller agency just because you are there, as opposed to a larger agency, where your position working on an account is usually obtained due to your own hard work and skills.

4. Pace

How fast do you want to jump into the deep end? At a larger agency the pace is quite slow at the start, and you can slowly gain more and more work as you learn and improve at the job. At a smaller agency there is no type for a briefing, you are thrown straight into the work. While for some people this may be the quickest way to learn the ins and outs of the job, others may be overwhelmed by the initial workload and may not be able to keep up.

Desiree Peterkin Bell is an experienced politician and a formidable player in the PR industry. Her boutique public affairs firm, DPBell & Associates is slowly gaining steam, offering premium public relations services. To find out more about Desiree and her business, visit her website.