The size, structure, and type of an organization tend to impact
the types of work employees do in ADPR.
Below are common work environments and expectations. For example, people who manage social media might be located in a large social media agency with a job that focuses on media planning, scheduling, posting, and analytics for clients. Or, they may be part of a small (e.g., five-person) full-service ad agency, providing all possible advertising needs for clients, including content creation, graphics, video, print ads, etc. The same person located in an "in-house" marketing department would focus on a single business--the one that employs them. A small in-house department might need one person to handle all advertising and public relations, whereas a large business with many employees might have departments with people focusing on narrower tasks with larger volume.
& PR FIRMS
In most agencies, people tend to "wear many hats," meaning they need a broad base of skills and quick pace. This is because ad agencies and PR firms tend to be small. This Forbes article notes: "The top types of agency players include the brand-new agency with up to five employees, the mid-size agency of six to 12 employees and the more robust agency of 13 to 25 employees."
Many ADPR professionals work "in-house," meaning they work for a single business. Small businesses, such as a dentist's office, might hire one "in-house" employee to handle all ADPR needs, which means that person would need a broad set of skills. On the other hand, large businesses can afford specialized positions, which means employees can cultivate a more narrow focus.
Freelancers work for themselves (usually from home), taking on jobs that suit their skill sets. They seek out clients and service them on their own. Freelancers are often engaged by ad agencies because most are small businesses. Client needs can fluctuate dramatically in volume and type. Freelancers can get paid by the job instead of drawing a salary year-round.
Low Stress or High Energy?
Some people love the fast pace and pressures of a small ad agency or PR firm. They enjoy the freedom of wearing many hats and the comradery of working in a small group. They thrive on the pressure of pulling all-nighters to meet an advertising pitch deadline or handle a PR crisis. Ad agencies and PR firms exist to offer exceptional expertise. For example, ad agencies offer outstanding creative work and/or media services that could not easily be done in-house. PR firms offer expertise in strategic communications utilizing well-established relationships with media outlets and other organizations. Therefore, high performance standards and special creative skill are typically demanded in these environments. Agencies can gain or lose clients at any moment based on the quality of work they perform and the relationships they maintain.
If such high-energy, performance-driven environments are not for you, an in-house marketing department can be a good alternative. You usually won't have to worry about losing your client (unless your employer goes out of business). Regular work hours are the norm. In-house departments usually handle whatever work they can and job-out special projects to ad agencies and PR firms. When they do "job out" projects, the in-house people coordinate the work between the client and agency, making the demands rather than pulling any all-nighters.
Small businesses with a one-person in-house marketing person can be rewarding because there's only one client to handle—the business you're working for—and expectations for performance vary. A local dental clinic will likely have predictable demands and realistic standards. Many small business owners know little about advertising and public relations, so they will depend on you to set your own standards. At the same time, you may need a wide variety of skills.