The difference between the nonprofit and business sectors of public relations

When looking into positions in the world of public relations, there is a plethora of routes one can take. Therefore, you must ask yourself: what am I truly passionate about? Do you have a particular taste for the food and beverage industry? a keen interest in hospitality and tourism? Maybe its the ins and outs of the fashion world that get your creative juices flowing. For me? Its always been an easy choice–nonprofit. The idea of working toward a cause and fostering change in the world has always inspired me more than anything else, and thus I feel like my place in PR’s competitive world lies in the nonprofit sector. While I know this is the career path I eventually want to take, it is important that I consider the contrasts and benefits of both the non profit sector of PR and the corporate/business sector before diving in head first. I think it is important for anybody in a similar position to do the same, and thus I have compiled a list of several ways in which nonprofit communications often differ from those of the corporate world. Believe it or not, there is more to each sector’s contrasting styles than just the payroll. Take a look at some points that were made on this topic by jobhunt.org:

1. I might as well cover the fundamental difference in finances while I have you thinking about it. Yes, Money and financing are a constant source of concern in the world of nonprofit public relations. This is no secret. Nonprofit communications teams struggle to think of new, unique ways to advertise and promote the organization’s message on such a strained budget that needs to be stretched in so many different ways. While this is an obstacle virtually every nonprofit must face at one point or another, there are ways to beat around this bothersome bush such as the utilization of social media, large public spaces, and free media coverage.

2. The environment is different, and your coworkers will be some of your best resources. A nonprofit’s small, localized environment will allow you to develop some tight knit relationships among your coworkers. With this comfortably close work environment, it makes it easier to develop a sense of rapport with the people you work with, making it that much less intimidating to share your perspective and bounce ideas of one another– a critical ability in a world where limited resources requires a think-outside-the-box mentality.

3. Culturally speaking, the corporate and nonprofit sides of PR are vastly different. Firstly, the driving force behind the two sectors are fundamentally different. In the corporate world, motivation revolves around making a profit whereas for a nonprofit, it’s the organization’s mission that propels the company forward. Additionally, the focus on revenue that corporate businesses possess define its success. For nonprofits, the standard for success is not so clear-cut. When working for a nonprofit communications team, I think it is important to realize that your success may not be defined in immediate, quantified results. It is important to understand that the success of a nonprofit project will usually show up later down the road, and that’s okay, as long as you’re passionate about the work your producing and proud of the message you’re conveying to the public.

After looking into the differences between PR’s corporate and nonprofit sectors, it is obvious the contrasts are stark. While there may be financial and organizational differences between the two business models, corporate PR lacks one major objective: working towards a cause and improving the lives of thousands of people along the way. While a more structured environment or heftier paycheck may be nice once in a while, a nonprofit’s ability to better its community is something that cannot often be found in a corporate company’s business model.

Image source: http://www.gunster.com/practice/corporate/

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