Public Relations Careers

Evaluate the different job opportunities in public relations. Compare education requirements, salary, and job duties to decide on the best career path for you.

What is Public Relations?

These days, how the public views a company or individual is a key indicator in the company's success. Think about companies that you have strong opinions about. How do you perceive them, and what about their actions affect your opinion of them? For a public relations (PR) professional, your opinion of the company is important since these professionals strive to have the public see their company in a positive light. If you enjoy swaying people's opinions and orchestrating projects designed to boost the public perception of your company, a career in public relations might be perfect for you.

Unlike marketing, which focuses on promoting a product to make money for the company, and advertising, which aims to get customers to purchase a product or service, public relations aims to build positive relationships between a company and the public. As a PR professional, you'll act as a bridge between the public at large, and oversee the communications of a company or organization. You'll need to uphold the image of your company to a professional standard and interpret public opinion and how it positively or negatively affects company morale and production. You might work in corporate communications, social media, or speechwriting as part of a career in public relations.

Types of Public Relations Jobs & Salary

Career Median Salary* Educational Requirements
Public Relations Assistant $36,296 Bachelor's degree
Public Relations Coordinator $39,325 Bachelor's degree
Public Relations Specialist $46,621 Bachelor's degree
Public Relations Manager $63,983 Bachelor's degree
Public Relations Director $82,878 Bachelor's degree; master's preferred by certain employers
Public Relations Consultant $56,252 No specific degree required

*Source: payscale.com (2018)

How much responsibility would you like to take on with a career in public relations? You may work either in a company's PR department or at a PR firm that has several companies as clients. Regardless of the path you choose, you could do anything from managing a company's social media to training employees on public image standards for a company. The jobs below are a few examples of the role you can play in shaping customers' perceptions of an organization.

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists are the worker bees of their department. They perform many tasks such as preparing speeches to be delivered by top executives, using social media to gauge public opinion, and facilitating direct communication with the public. Public relations specialists might also be called communications or media specialists, especially if their job is to issue press releases or new product information.

Specialists are highly skilled communicators and understand how to transmit a company's image through written and spoken word. Specialists will also benefit from the ability to contribute ideas and think outside the box during meetings with company executives.

Public Relations Manager

Public relations managers hire and oversee staff, such as copywriters and graphic designers. Managers will be responsible for promoting those whose ideas in campaigns prove successful. Addressing the needs of the team and ensuring your employees are contributing to campaign ideas is necessary for PR managers. Public relations managers might also be tasked with preparing media kits for press releases and organizing press conferences for their company.

Public relations managers must be able to make quick decisions and release information to address company problems as they occur. Therefore, as a manager, you'll need to have excellent communication skills and a knack for understanding the wavering opinion of the public. For those who enjoy taking charge and have years of experience making good judgment calls, a career as a PR manager is a great fit.

Public Relations Director

Public relations directors report on PR campaign results and listen to input from other branches of the company during meetings with executives. They usually have multiple responsibilities, such as being the key spokesperson in the department, personally going to meetings to build relationships with media companies, and coordinating PR campaigns, press materials, and social media posts. Directors work to maintain consistency across a campaign, and after, will assign created projects to different teams. Public relations directors must also know the ins and outs of digital media as companies continue to increase their online presence.

Directors are high up on the PR chain, and those who want this position should be prepared to make very serious decisions that could affect the future of the entire company. Directors must have plenty of PR experience under their belt and be familiar with trends in their industry to guide the department to success in the future.

Public Relations Consultant

Public relations consultants, typically hired as outside contractors, provide a fresh perspective to an existing campaign or event. Consultants can sometimes work directly with the media to promote their client's company. As experts in speech writing, consultants may also work with higher-level executives to prepare them for public speaking.

PR consultants are freelancers, which means they should be prepared to work in a wide variety of industries, and with it, bring experience from many different walks of life. With no specific degree requirements, extensive work experience is a must for this position.

Public Relations Entry-Level Jobs

A public relations intern doesn't just slide into a director-level position overnight; it takes years of work and provable results in campaigns to climb the ladder in public relations. If you've just finished your major in PR, you'll want to look at some of the entry-level career choices we have listed below. Even the best in speech preparation and social media management have to start somewhere.

Public Relations Assistant

PR assistants are responsible for administrative tasks and duties assigned to them by directors or managers. Assistants will work with the PR team to brainstorm during planning sessions, and work on PR campaigns in progress. Assistants can also run web analytics to help determine which aspects of a campaign are producing results, where to improve content, and how best to reach new clients.

Aspiring PR assistants can major in finance or marketing to be well-prepped for the position. Working as an intern before finding employment as an assistant is beneficial since it provides valuable hands-on experience before starting a career.

Public Relations Coordinator

Public relations coordinators have direct ties with their clients to ensure the best results of PR campaigns. Coordinators will keep a consistent line of communication with the media by staying up to date and in contact with journalists.

As part of their everyday duties, public relations coordinators are sent to meetings with clients and partner organizations to discuss campaign arrangements. Coordinators will confirm compliance with all company regulations and policies, and once a story is ready for release to the public, public relations coordinators distribute press releases in many formats, which could include emails, social media posts, and blog entries.

Public Relations Skills

  • Public speaking is an asset in public relations. To project a positive image for your company, you're going to need to be able to communicate with the public, through a camera or pitching in front of a company board.
  • Creative thinking will help you come up with new and interesting campaigns for your company. Finding that hidden niche might be the spark you need to move your company in bold, new directions.
  • Charisma is important if you want to communicate your company's message to the public. While pushing your company's image, it helps if you can grab the audience with your personality.
  • Teamwork should be one of your strong suits. Working in public relations demands that you coordinate your campaign among a number of different departments, and at some point, you will need to take other opinions and criticisms into account.