There are many advantages to starting out in a PR firm such as the fact that only a few people need to work in a firm. Someone can easily start their own firm with just a few employers and not worry about dealing with a boss or even having to start at the bottom of the totem pole in a business. By 2010 public relations firms are also expected to grow so there will be more options for someone just starting in the field. Public Relations firms also often get to work with many different clients which can give a new practitioner a variety of options. (Check out a PR firm’s client coverage as an example).
In a public relations department there are higher levels of management that can benefit a new practitioner. Salaries often tend to be higher working in departments rather than firms. Departments also allow you to get closer to the client. In a department you are working within the organization that you are representing. A good example of this can be found in my interview with Joanna Stotter who works for a marketing department in North Fulton Hospital.
With the advantages of both I believe that a practitioner would benefit most from a PR department or firm depending on the practitioner’s needs. If the new practitioner wants more clients then a PR firm is better. If a new PR practitioner has experience in a specific area that will help to get the job and wants to work with one organization the practitioner should work for a PR department.