PR vs. HR: Caitlin McCusker of Burson-Marsteller Weighs In

On Tuesday, October 23, Caitlin McCusker, HR Associate for Burson-Marsteller in New York, came to speak in our Introduction to PR class, as well as our Chapter of PRSSA.

Caitlin was hired in 2011 in the HR department at Burson-Marsteller, a “leading global public relations and communications firm.” As a full service agency, Burson-Marsteller specializes in a variety of industries from corporate financial practice to technology and healthcare. They offer their clients an array of service and are able to do so because they do not target one type of client or industry.

One story Caitlin told hit me in particular. A hand went up in the lecture hall and someone asked how she made the transition from studying PR in college, to working in HR at Burson-Marsteller. I was curious myself. As a PR major at BU, I’ve been working hard to get into the PR world. How does HR compare?

Caitlin studied public relations at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. When she entered the workforce after graduation, she fell into a human resource role. Caitlin says, for her, this was the best of both worlds. Although she doesn’t work directly with clients, as a PR professional would, she found a great fit in an industry she enjoyed talking and learning about. By doing HR for a PR firm, Caitlin can apply her background in PR and learn new things at the same time.

HR and PR are alike in the sense that they are both counselors and strategic advisors for their clients. Both industries offer insights to proper policies and enforce certain protocol. From the HR perspective, clients do the same thing with their clients.

A final hand rose that morning, Caitlin called on the student, and a determined voice asked,  “How do you find satisfaction in this industry?” Caitlin thought a moment. She replied, “Your work is what you make of it. Have capacity. Do meaningful work.” Meaningful work is the core foundation that keeps a client’s account together.

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