Working in corporate PR vs. going solo: Corina Manea's story

Working in corporate PR vs. going solo: Corina Manea's story

Muck Rack's features editor, Jessica, challenged me to take a trip down memory lane and talk about my experience in corporate PR versus life as a solo PR pro. As with any challenge that comes my way, I accepted. :)

What is it like working in the corporate PR world

After college, I was lucky enough to land a job at a prestigious bank, newly entered on the Romanian market. It was scary and exciting at the same time. Though I started in the customer service department, after a few years and with a lot of work, I made my way to the company’s PR department. And that’s where my adventure in the PR world began.

Working in the PR department of a bank is being always on, there was always something happening, whether in retail, corporate, treasury, IT, human resources, you name it. You don't realize how many departments a bank has until you work for one.

Every day was full of adrenaline with new projects coming our way, many demands, deadlines, press conferences, events.

During my journey in the corporate world, I was very fortunate to work with inspiring people, who never feared hard work or 'getting their hands dirty'.

My boss and PR director, Corina Vasile, was one of them. She encouraged me to find my passion when I landed in her department. Actually, after six months in the job she asked me, "what do you like most to do here?" I told her events and she immediately put me in the events department. There I had the chance to organize and coordinate company’s largest events (e.g. events for 1.5K people) and deal with all the challenges that come with that. To say I learned a lot would be an understatement.

Not many directors, managers or even business owners do that for their teams, though they should. I've changed a few jobs since working with Corina and I can tell you very few take the time to see what people in their teams are best at or like to do. See, that’s why I say I was very lucky to have worked and learned from people as Corina.

Now back to today's topic, working as a PR pro for a corporation is very different than being a solo PR pro. Nevertheless I believe my experience in the corporate world set me up for success as a solo PR.

Let Me Explain:

In the corporate world you have to follow the rigid rules (yes they are rigid), while struggling to come up with new ideas to communicate your company's message. Most times, we had to resist internal fights and office politics and find alternative ways to get our projects approved. We had to be creative about that too. However, corporate PR is very challenging and fast. You have to come up with new ideas all the time, to prove your worth every time, to know how to deal with vice presidents (we had six!), directors and managers who all thought their ideas were brilliant. You have to deliver, you have to execute. I learned a ton while I worked in the corporate world and it set the ground for who I wanted to become as a PR professional. I had the chance to work very closely with some of the smartest people in PR agencies, to see how life in an agency is compared to in-house. It's fast and you have to adapt or "fail."

It's a continuous, yet exhausting hustle. Not because of the work volume or the things you have to come up with constantly, but because of the internal fights and office politics, which I don't particularly enjoy. I always admired Corina for having the patience and wisdom to navigate through those shady waters.

However, I wouldn't be where I am today without that experience. Like I said, it set the ground for what I wanted to do later.

A Solo Journey

As a solo PR pro I have the freedom to choose with whom I work, whether clients or colleagues (partners). I have the freedom to get out of a partnership if it doesn't go as planned. Most importantly I have the chance to come up with new ideas, test and implement them. I no longer have to wait for approvals from six different people to get a project to the next level. I no longer have to ask for approval for every small detail.

This doesn’t mean everything is perfect. In every job there are good parts and not so good ones, it's up to us to find what's most important for us and keep doing that.

Going solo is not for everybody, just like working in the corporate world is not for everybody either. You have to find the balance and what's working for you at the stage you are in your career.

I always recommend trying new things and new opportunities. You will never know what you like most until you try different jobs and opportunities. I am not saying you should leave your job if you’ve been there for more than two years. What I am saying is you have to be opened to new experiences, to keep learning and to interact with as many people as possible. Is the only way to be successful as a PR pro, no matter who you’re working for.

What do you think? Have you experienced life as a corporate PR pro or life as a solo PR pro? Chime in!

Corina Manea is an independent PR professional and social media strategist, currently living in Madrid, Spain. Founder of NutsPR and with more than a decade in PR and customer service, she is passionate about helping businesses and individuals connect with their audiences on social media, while building an irresistible brand. Connect with her onTwitter.

Photo: Handshake partnership via Shutterstock

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