Are you outgoing — known for your people skills? If so, you might want to think about a public relations (PR) career. PR jobs span different types of industries, from private companies and nonprofit organizations to government offices and advertising agencies. Nearly 23,000 new jobs will be added from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’ve researched PR jobs so you can zoom in on the best job opportunities.
Overview: What Does a Public Relations Job Entail?
A public relations professional works for an individual client or organization and handles duties related to public image. You might:
- Forge relationships with media and community members
- Write and distribute press releases
- Coordinate events and public appearances
- Write speeches and presentations
- Develop PR strategies and campaigns
- Respond to press inquiries
A PR professional who works for a corporation is usually part of a larger marketing team and collaborates on PR policies, campaigns and strategies.
Do I Need a Public Relations Degree to Work in this Field?
Most employers prefer that you have a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communication or a related field. No matter what your major is, you should have public relations courses on your resume in addition to coursework in marketing and public speaking. Are you seeking a senior-level PR job? A master’s in business or marketing is recommended. You may be able to find a job based on your experience level or even learn on the job In some cases, especially in more junior-level roles.
Some PR professionals create portfolios of the marketing and PR campaigns they’ve worked on. A portfolio is recommended because it’s something tangible employers can evaluate. There are also organizations that offer PR certifications, so check those out, too. Do some research to make sure they’re credible because many PR courses and seminars are expensive.
Types of PR Jobs and Titles
The PR field is a vast category and encompasses many different job titles and job descriptions. Let’s take a look at examples of PR job titles and typical job functions they perform.
Entry-Level Public Relations Jobs
An entry-level public relations job is ideal for a college student or recent graduate, sometimes as an internship. You might research event venues, contact sponsors or assist with events. These types of jobs are great for learning the ropes of the business.
Sample job titles: Entry-level PR associate, public relations specialist, junior PR associate
Publicists handle public relations for a brand, company or a public figure such as a celebrity. Most publicists have multiple clients and represent them when addressing the media. Publicists must protect their client’s image. They secure photo opportunities and media coverage with TV, magazine, radio, newspaper and online outlets.
Sample job titles: Publicist, senior publicist, celebrity publicist
Media Relations Jobs
A media relations job is the sole liaison between a company or individual and media outlets such as TV stations, websites, radio stations and news organizations. Media relations specialists are responsible for answering media inquiries and issuing public statements on their client’s behalf.
Sample job titles: Media relations specialist, media relations director, media relations manager
Corporate Spokesperson Jobs
A corporate spokesperson is an official spokesperson for a large company who handles press inquiries and statements. For example, a company may be involved in a lawsuit, dispute or public scandal and a corporate spokesperson might issue a statement on behalf of the company. The spokesperson acts as a liaison between the media and the client.
Sample job titles: Corporate spokesperson, company spokesperson, corporate publicist
Public Relations Managers Jobs
Public relations managers oversee PR teams within companies and usually report to a PR director or other top executive. They develop PR strategies and campaigns, assign tasks to the PR team and oversee their progress. They’re responsible for measuring the success of a campaign and report progress to decision-makers.
Sample job titles: Public relations manager, senior public relations manager, lead public relations manager
Public Relations Directors Jobs
A public relations director is the top PR executive at a corporation, nonprofit organization or agency. Public relations directors are responsible for the bottom-line results of PR campaigns and initiatives and oversee PR managers and teams.
Sample job titles: Public relations directors, director of public relations, director of public relations and corporate communications
Salary Ranges and Expectations for the PR Field
The average annual median salary for a public relations specialist is $60,000. You can make more money, depending on your location and area of expertise. Here are other average salaries in the PR field:
- PR manager ($115,000)
- Promotional manager ($133,000)
You’ll likely make more if you specialize in a particular kind of PR or work for a celebrity, and if you have your own business, you can set your hourly rate.
Projected Growth Rate of PR
The projected job outlook for PR jobs is 9%, about average compared to other occupations. Targeting a more senior-level role such as a PR manager means that your expected job growth rate is 10%, slightly faster than average.
How to Get a Job in PR
Once you’ve decided public relations is your chosen career path, how do you find a job? Here are some tips to help jumpstart your job search:
- Leverage your college’s career center. Whether you’re still a college student or a recent graduate, your school’s career center is a great place to start. Career counselors can help you connect with employers who are hiring and help you with your resume.
- Tweak your resume. You’ll be dealing with the media and in high-profile situations so your resume should have extra pizazz and shine. Have a professional write it so it will be polished and stand out among competitors.
- Start a blog. It’s easy to start a blog on sites such as WordPress. You can write about your PR style and approach and discuss topics related to your interests. Post the blogs on social media to help establish your credibility.
- Network. Join professional organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America and Facebook groups to connect with other job seekers and learn about opportunities. Also, join groups on LinkedIn and add contacts to your LinkedIn network. Tip: Make sure your LinkedIn settings are enabled so your profile is visible to recruiters and employers.
- Join a staffing agency. Some employment agencies specialize in finding jobs for PR professionals. They have inside leads to good job opportunities and have built relationships with local employers.
- Specialize. If you choose a specialty, you’ll be more desirable to certain clients. Examples of specialties include entertainment and legal.
- Target your job search. Make a wishlist of the companies you’d most like to work for and search their career sections for PR jobs.
- Keep learning. It doesn’t hurt take business development courses online or other related courses even if you have a college degree under your belt.
- Search sites that cater to your field. Sites like mediabistro.com feature jobs related to the media and public relations, so check them out.
- Create a portfolio. Create an online portfolio using a site like Wix to showcase PR campaigns and promotions you’ve developed.
- Start your own company. Would you like to be your own boss? You can create a website for about $10 a month using DIY website providers such as Weebly. Post client testimonials and examples of your work.
Top 8 Skills to Be Successful in PR
What skills are desirable to employers? Here are the top 8 skills you’ll need to be successful.
1. Communication Skills
Any public relations job will require you to do a lot of communicating — with clients, media representatives and others — so you need strong writing, speaking and presentation skills. Your reputation will depend largely on your ability to effectively communicate messages to the public.
2. Creative Thinking Skills
You’ll need to think creatively to devise new and interesting ways to promote your clients, products and brands. Whether it’s the next best social media campaign or a news interview, you’ll have fun thinking of creative ways to get your client’s name out there.
3. Social Media Skills
Instagram and Twitter should be a second language to you. Social media plays a big part in the public relations world, so using it should be your strong suit.
4. Research Skills
PR professionals should always have their finger on the pulse of what’s new and trending — following the latest industry news is a must. Good research skills are essential, as you’ll need to dig in and find out what the best PR strategies are for your particular industry and end goals.
5. Organizational Skills
On any given day, you might need to schedule a meeting, presentation or new product launch, and all will have tight deadlines attached. Your organizational skills should be on point, so you can juggle multiple tasks at once.
6. Relationship-Building Skills
Building relationships will be a big part of your job. You’ll need to gain respect from your clients, the public and business partners to establish credibility in this field. It’s all about building rapport and lasting relationships, so when you need a favor you’ll have connections you can tap.
7. Problem-Solving Skills
You might have to deal with a difficult client or handle a crisis as a PR professional. You should be calm and cool under pressure, ready to handle problems thrown your way. In some cases, you’ll need to do damage control to save your client’s reputation, so finding solutions fast will be critical.
8. Multimedia Skills
You should be comfortable using Skype, Outlook, Adobe Reader, PowerPoint, YouTube and Google. You’ll be even more desirable to employers if you’re familiar with SEO, PhotoShop and HTML.
Is a PR Job Right for You?
Whether you choose to work for yourself or join a corporate public relations team, it’s important to have a good plan for retirement in place. If you decide to go solo, be sure to stash away money for the future and take advantage of tax deductions for business owners. Social media and online news changes by the second and there will always be opportunities in the public relations field. Some people want to build an image and others want to repair one. Find an area of PR that sparks your interest so you can hit the ground running.