This week on Inside PR, Terry and David talk about the differences between big and small agencies. They welcome audio comments from Patricia Parsons, a professor of public relations at Mount St. Vincent’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and from Michael Seaton from The Client Side. Also, Terry does his Inside PRoper English¬†segment. Finally, they play this week’s contribution from Chris Clarke.

Show Notes

00:28 David is glad to be back and introduces the show. He invites listener feedback through email at [email protected], the comment line at 206-600-4741, or comment on the Inside PR show blog.

01:48 Terry talks about an interview he did with Canadian Podcast Buffet, with Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis. The episode can be downloaded here.

03:32 David talks about a new post on KD Paine’s blog about the top 10 PR firms in the world and their presence in the blogosphere.

05:28 David introduces the first comment from Michael Seaton from The Client Side. David thinks Michael did a great job, and thanks him for stepping in during his absence.

07:45 Terry talks about how he only met Michael face-to-face after recording last week’s episode together. They got together for a geek dinner organized by Michael and Mitch Joel.

08:28 David brings up the Third Tuesday and Third Monday meetups happening at the end of September for Toronto and Ottawa communicators. Shel Israel will be speaking at both inaugural events. You can find the signup link for Toronto here and the Ottawa link here.

10:55 Terry introduces a comment from Patricia Parsons, a professor of public relations from Mount St. Vincent’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

15:15 David brings up this week’s topic: small agency vs. big agency, for students considering a placement.

16:08 Terry mentions the fact that both he and Dave have worked at both big and small agencies in Canada. He doesn’t intend to provide definite conclusions on the debate. He recalls that a decade ago the big agencies had the big clients, which is no longer a rule of the agency world. According to Terry, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. He makes the case that at larger agencies there might not be the variety of tasks and responsibilites offered at smaller agencies.

19:42 David says that regardless of where you work, there are things that stay the same: you will start at the bottom and you’ll learn from the bottom-up. To him, the difference between big and small is simply a game of numbers: there are more opportunities for people in small agencies based on the fact that there are fewer staff to draw on. But, at larger agencies, there are certainly more opportunities for advancement because there are simply more positions to be filled. Nonetheless, the opportunities go to those who deserve them.

23:40 Terry claims that the only way to get anywhere is to take the opportunities that come your way. Be aggressive, but reasonable. Also, at smaller firms, the junior people get to sit around the table for creative sessions with the senior people, which is an excellent opportunity. That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen at larger firms, but it is more likely to happen at smaller firms.

26:20 David wraps up the chat and says that there are pros and cons to each size of firm. He says the most important part is about knowing your job and knowing who’s on your team. There are great people in terrible agencies and terrible people in great agencies.

29:00 David introduces and plays Chris Clarke‘s segment for the week.

32:41 Inside PRoper English for the week: tenet

33:45 From the files of Inside PRoper English: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

35:15 Terry closes the show and invites listener comments: through email at [email protected], on the comment line at 206-600-4741, or comment on the Inside PR show blog. Also, they welcomes listeners to the Inside PR Blubrry site.

Music: our theme music is Streetwalker by CJacks, and is from the Podsafe Music Network; Roger Dey is our announcer.


  1. Haven’t listened to this one yet, but I’m living to check the weekly posting on Inside PRoper English. I particularly enjoy the witty commentary of each post.

  2. I really liked this discussion, guys. Very good.

    Going with a big firm versus a small firm is something I’ve thought about quite a few times as I near the end of my school career.

    After listening to your discussion, I’m still pretty much undecided. I think the decision will come from me interacting with both when I do interviews, etc.

    Do you guys have any advice for making a choice?

    I tend to like to be led. I’m not an agressive person. I don’t like forcing my way to the lead, but I definitely like building myself up to it.

    I just don’t know.

  3. Owen, there’s really no difference in my opinion. Do your homework on the account team you will be working with. That has a much larger impact on your career than the size of the firm.

  4. Thanks, David.

    After listening to the latest podcast, reading your comment here and hearing from Bite Comm, I think I feel much better about figuring out what types of people I want to work with, versus what type of firm I want to work for.

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