Public relations serves a very specific role in an organization. While an advertising agency communicates a company’s message to a targeted audience, a public relations (PR) agency communicates that message to the press.
Public relations specialists can work at a PR agency or in the PR department of a large company where they create communications solely for that company. Becoming a public relations manager means working in a larger businesses to manage a staff of PR specialists.
Most positions in public relations require at least a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communication, English or marketing. But work experience in public relations is also highly regarded in this field. In addition, students can join the Public Relations Student Society of America, and professionals can become members of the Public Relations Society of America.
Public relations professionals speak on behalf of their client, pitching story ideas to the press, writing press releases and creating press kits. The theory is that a message that comes from the press is more objective and therefore more favorable to the company than a message that comes from an advertising or marketing department within the company.
In general, PR professionals plan conventions, organize fund-raising events, write speeches, arrange interviews and publish newsletters, all with the objective of casting their client in a positive light. The typical job duites of a public relations managers include:
Given that PR specialists, particularly departmental managers, spend much of their time communicating with the press and writing press releases, speeches and reports, they must possess excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. They should be outgoing, friendly, confident, articulate, persuasive and able to get along harmoniously with a wide variety of people. Creativity and flexibility are also valuable assets in this field.
According to projections released by the U.S. Department of Labor, employment opportunities for public relations specialists are expected to grow faster than the average for all jobs well into the next decade. Stiff competition is expected for entry-level PR positions, however.
Figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the median annual salary for public relations specialists was around $47,000. A public relations manager’s salary can be expected to be higher and comparable to similar management positions in advertising and marketing.
This median salary is expected to increase by as much as 10 percent in the coming decade, as more and different media outlets are available, making the job of public relations specialist more complex and multifaceted.