Difference Between a Publicist, Manager & Agent

Publicists, managers and agents all work in the best interests of their clients, and help them to secure lucrative work throughout their careers. There are similarities in these three professions, but also differences in the work they do to promote and help their clients.

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Comparing Publicists, Managers and Agents

While publicists, managers and agents may all work for the same client, the work they do is quite different. Publicists work to keep a positive public image of their client, while managers handle many of their client's career decisions. Agents promote and sell a client's work or future endeavors. Below is a comparison of these three careers with salary and education information.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Publicist Bachelor's degree $44,565 (2017)** 6%
(for all public relations specialists)
Manager Bachelor's degree $62,080 (2016)*
(for agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)
2%-4%
(for agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)
Agent Bachelor's degree $46,929 (2017)** 2%-4%
(for all agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

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Responsibilities of Publicists, Managers and Agents

Publicists, managers and agents typically work for entertainers, artists or athletes. Publicists, or public relations specialists, represent their clients to the public and in the media. Managers commonly help handle business decisions and develop careers, and agents seek employment for their clients. All three of these representatives work diligently to take care of certain aspects of a client's life and career so he or she can concentrate on their work.

Publicist

It is a publicist's job to create and maintain a positive public image for their client. They have connections to local and national media outlets and they create press releases, urging media coverage for their clients' work. Most publicists work for a publicity company and handle a number of clients at the same time. Today's publicists have to be knowledgeable of internet resources as well as standard print and television outlets, so that they can best promote their clients to the public.

Job responsibilities of a Publicist include:

  • Preparing information and press kits for the media
  • Handling inquiries from media about their clients
  • Arranging interviews and other press meetings
  • Designing publicity plans for their clients

Manager

Managers handle business and career decisions in collaboration with their clients. They develop overall strategies for clients so that they can plan for a productive and lucrative career. At times, managers negotiate contracts for their clients. They also work to find alternative income sources, such as marketing or promotional tie-ins to the work their clients do.

Job responsibilities of a Manager include:

  • Developing a strong network of contacts within their clients' industry
  • Scheduling appearances and signings for their clients
  • Building a career-long plan for a client's career
  • Managing a client's financial decisions

Agent

The main focus of an agent's job is representing their clients in negotiations for work. They represent several clients at once and do their best to promote and secure work for them. Most talent agents are bonded and licensed by the state they work in and are limited in what they can do for a client. Agents commonly work for a talent agency.

Job responsibilities of an Agent include:

  • Staying updated on current trends within their clients' industries
  • Being aware of union, state and industry rules that may affect their clients
  • Collaborating with talent agency executives to develop strategies advantageous to clients
  • Explaining negotiations to clients before and after decisions are made

Related Careers

There are careers that share some of the skills of publicists, managers and agents. Someone interested in the promotional work of a publicist might be interested in work as a marketing manager, developing promotional plans for individuals or companies. The work that managers do to advise clients on financial matters is similar to that of a personal financial advisor. Agents recruit strong talent and seek out clients for work, in a similar way to human resources specialists, who work to hire the best employees for a business or organization.

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