What It’s Like to Cross Over from #SchoolPR to #AgencyLife

It’s been two years since I left education PR for the agency life. The private sector suits me. More jeans and boots, less ties and suits. I believe I’m where I’m called to be. Aside from the dress code, there are some other notable differences between public relations in education and agency settings. But let’s start with the principles that never change no matter where you are.

Similarities between public sector and agency PR

  • You cannot not communicate. Everything you do (or don’t do) communicates something. Schools and agencies both make communication decisions that impact and influence communities.
  • Client service feels like internal communication. School PR people have leadership clients, finance clients, HR clients, curriculum clients, operations clients, etc., each with their own outreach wants and needs. The school PR professional must manage internal expectations along with the overall district’s reputation. Agency folks do this, too, through the craft of client service.
  • PR planning is PR planning. Whether you call it RPIE (research, planning, implementation and evaluation) or Balcom’s Insight, Creativity and Technology process, the thought process is very similar. School PR pros are crucial to education for the same reason agency professionals are crucial to businesses: Great results require lots of strategic, behind-the-scenes communication planning.
“Being an “effective communicator” means more than just a bullet point on a résumé.”

Differences between public sector and agency PR

  • Faster turnaround. The agency can provide a culture of quickness; we tend to get things accomplished faster when needed. Sadly, this can prove troublesome in education due to the bureaucratic process that often Slows. Things. Down.
  • More communication-focused manpower. School PR supports the educators, learning process and overall community knowledge, so that’s where the focus is. But the agency employs a whole team of professional strategic communicators, so being an “effective communicator” means more than just a bullet point on a résumé.
  • Rules and regulations. The education industry is riddled with rules and policy issues that school PR professionals need to be versed in. While agencies operate through various marketing standards and norms, not all of them stay current in school statutes and rules.

Now, as Balcom’s resident “school guy,” I stay connected with education life to make sure Balcom keeps up with those rules and stays ready to serve our schools – bringing all the advantages of agency PR right back to the education industry where I started.

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Tags: PR & Social Media, Advice for Students

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