“Start small. People from small setups rise to higher ones. I don’t think this consultancy should be your first PR job.”
“You’re just 23, and you’re CorpComm? Maybe consider some consultancy experience first”.
“What is, exactly, your role? You’re making reels for your company.”
It’s all about listening to your gut, which is why the dots are connected and I am here.
A little bit about myself.
I have studied journalism for four years but don’t subscribe to a newspaper. And I could very well afford it since I live among lawyers and a fellow CorpComm. But we consciously choose to consume news on our phones. Sometimes, through memes (yikes!)
I handle corporate communications and brand relations for a leading FemTech startup. My day starts with some news tracking and ends with making reels for the company.
Not many CorpComms, I know, are doing that. And yet, I choose to keep carving a new path for myself.
I started my journey as a PR Executive with India’s largest PR consultancy. Even then, my day would begin with news – but it ended with maybe a report, a media brief, coverage updates or compiling a media list. Which has taught me a lot in my journey to handle communications for a brand, but it also left me with some realisations.
My day would start at 8 am, consuming and compiling news, going on till midnight on some days.
I’d chase journalists for one feature – an industry story, authored article or interview.
Quarter results would be the most hectic.
Which is when I decided to go back to what I loved – content.
But a series of interviews showed I was now a stamped media relations and PR person – even when I didn’t know it! My experience and knowledge pushed me to that role when I was hired in Sirona Hygiene. Interestingly, I interned with them as a Content Strategist, but me being me – I dabbled in brand communications and even customer care! I would call customers and resolve their craziest doubts about intimate and menstrual hygiene offerings.
Less, maybe more for some, but I – like many energetic Gen-Z, like to dabble with something different every day.
Which is why, even if you are considering a career in PR, questioning your role in PR or confused in the debate as eternal as chicken or the egg – brand or consultancy? – I have answers for you.
Yes, I am 23. Too young to advise just yet. God knows how many days I search for it and seek it. But even in my early 20s, I have some experience that could be useful to anyone who wants to be a communicator.
Let’s debunk some points for consultancy v/s brand, shall we?
(Spoiler Alert – you won’t have a concrete score of which is better! But read on…)
#1: Brand Roles Stagnate After a Point
To answer that for you, I need to take you through my roles as a CorpComm.
We draft press releases and journalist queries on behalf of the brand’s spokespersons. With or without consultancy – media rounds, frequent calls and coordination, and a media list are always necessary.
But is that what I do every day? This is where brands are different.
I remember my profile being expanded to PR, managing LinkedIn for the company and a third, miscellaneous task. My boss believes PR is a 2-hour job.
And out of the consultancy, I believe that. At least for myself.
Yes, this is not one-size-fits-all, but there are days PR is a 2-hour job for me, which was not possible even on the lightest day at the consultancy. Because then, I would polish my media list or read up more.
But in a brand role, there is more than one department, more than one campaign, marketing strategy or brand collaborations, getting on potential synergy calls with stakeholders – the list goes on.
The consultancy I joined at a time, when we would do some social listening for clients. But in a brand, I need to be on top of the trends that work for LinkedIn as well as Instagram.
Yes, some days are light and also full of fun, but there’s something new every day at work, which is why I look forward to waking up every day and showing up!
#2 PR is getting obsolete
Back to my statement that I do not subscribe to a newspaper. I may also not watch the news for an entire week on TV – but government offices have both of these. And after my degree in journalism, I realised too soon that the discourse was oblivious to many – because we were huddling with the best mentors in the industry – which is why we knew the drill; still, even the brightest minds in engineering, medicine or business were unaware of some media developments.
So, when I would tell them I help brands make the news at my consultancy, they wanted to know how it unfolds.
The truth is that people will always need updates. And though the medium has changed – from papers to meme pages, from wire flashes to Twitter notifications, from cable and D2H to Live TV on YouTube, journalism still exists. The sources have only expanded – which gives consumers more ground to consume information and lets in more influencers in the picture – from company spokespersons to digital and social media creators.
Hence, if in the 90s or 2000s people were running to media houses with a printed copy of a company press release, today brands and agencies also compile an influencer list because your consumer can be anyone and anywhere – and you cannot leave any stone unturned to make a mark.
This brings us to the good news – agencies will never be obsolete!
You may find yourself in a brand consultancy. And still, some people there make memes and reels for the Instagram pages of their next-gen clients.
You may be into traditional PR – but being in touch with the social media space is a specific ask. Most crisis unfolds online.
#3: How soon is it now?
PR and even journalism, to my limited knowledge, is a mixed bag of diverse minds from the industry – medical experts, technicians, ex-military, lawyers, MBA holders – the list gets bigger and better!
You may find one colleague (primarily senior) at the consultancy who has worked in a media publication. And you may meet someone who has always dabbled in brand roles – never experienced the consultancy culture. Someone may be a video content creator, and the other could communicate through graphics – which is why it’s safe to say that everyone’s journey is unique to them.
This is why you may be 23 in a brand or 46 in a consultancy – but you will still be relevant.
If you listen to Ankur Warikoo debunking the corporate v/s startup debate, you’d know he gives you metrics to decide which place is better for you.
This is why I, too, give you a way to assess – unique to you – if you want to be in a consultancy or CorpComm. Because I know how confusing it can get for Gen Z to find their footing 😊
- Do you want to be the first cut or final copy regarding content?
If the former, then you’d instead find yourself in a consultancy.
If you like reviewing or coordinating with teams for the final content copy before it reaches the journalist, you may be fit for a brand.
- Are you into managing or execution?
If you like to do everything yourself, you’d love to be in a consultancy. From reporting to creating content, processing information, and interacting with journalists – you will have your pie and eat it too.
If you like to coordinate with teams for an end task, you may enjoy being in a consultancy more.
- Do you like to play safe or take risks?
You will always have layers of checking in a consultancy.
In a brand, often, you’re the last layer of information. So if you like to take ownership of things, good or bad, you’ll enjoy being in a brand more.
- Do you like working with chatter around or in absolute silence? Would you be fine discussing your day with a colleague, or do your job and leave?
A consultancy setup is full of the hustle and bustle. You’ll always be around people doing the same job differently – hence you share your day with someone with the same grind.
In a brand, there is often a small media division – it may be only one person – so often, you’ll have none you can discuss your job within the organisation because they may not understand it that well.
Copy the pointers on a doc. Strike off the sentence that doesn’t feel like you and reread the para. See which word occurs more – consultancy or brand? That’s your answer.
And if it’s a tie – remember that many consultancies folks in top management were once CorpComms for companies. So, you can always switch sides – as long as your loyalty is to information, communication and public relations.
Because it’s about understanding and relating to the broader audience in whatever capacity you can.
The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.