Public relations professionals possess versatile skills that allow them to work in a wide variety of capacities. By far the best-known PR occupation is PR specialist, who on a given day might do anything from write a press release to schedule an interview as well as prepare the interviewee.
Other more senior positions, such as public relations manager, have similarly varied responsibilities that span communications, marketing and PR. Let’s examine their roles in more depth.
A look at PR managers: What they do and where they work
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies PR managers as “public relations and fundraising managers,” and outlines a broad range of possible tasks they might perform. The typical public relations manager may routinely:
- Strategize about how to reach an organization’s most important audiences
- Coordinate relations with media outlets
- Select key spokespeople and assign PR personnel to projects
- Collaborate with executives, e.g. prepare speeches and talking points for them
- Write press releases and create other assets as needed
- Oversee the work of more junior PR specialists
- Manage social media posts and general strategy
- Shape an organization’s overall public image and identity
A public relations manager might work in the private or public sector, for anything from a non-profit organization to a government agency. Even though PR is often associated with large corporations, even small firms need help communicating effectively with the public. Having the expertise of a PR manager is a big part of doing exactly that.
A company may need a public relations manager on a daily basis. The PR manager might be tasked with overseeing an annual campaign to raise its brand awareness, with more specific responsibilities related to:
- Reviewing social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) analytics to learn more about the interests of its audiences and what types of posts they like to see
- Working with PR specialists on branded content creation and distribution, such as newsletters, videos and podcasts, in addition to standard press releases
- Scheduling press availability and setting up interviews with publications as part of a larger campaign following a product launch or crisis response
- Conducting ongoing evaluations of junior staff performance
The current state of public relations manager jobs
PR jobs in general are in high demand. The BLS has predicted 8% growth in the total employment of public relations and fundraising managers from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average rate for all professions.
Likewise, PR managers have a positive outlook when it comes to earnings. In 2018, they made a median annual wage of almost $115,000, a sum that’s comfortably above the median yearly U.S. income.
Most PR professionals are generally happy in their jobs. According to U.S. News & World Report, PR workers have relatively good upward mobility prospects and manageable stress levels, although their flexibility is somewhat limited compared to other occupations.
How to become a public relations manager
Most managerial positions in PR, including PR manager, require at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as communications, journalism, English or PR itself. Some career openings may also ask for a master’s degree in one of these domains.
Since it is a senior role, the PR manager position requires much more working experience than would be expected of a PR specialist, as the latter is often an entry-level role. PR managers may benefit in particular from earning various industry certifications that demonstrate advanced expertise and knowledge:
- The Public Relations Society of America offers certificates in PR, including its popular Accredited in Public Relations, or APR, credential. APR certification is meant to convey professional competence as well as mastery of current PR industry practices.
- The International Association of Business Communicators offers two certifications, Communication Management Professional and Strategic Communication Management Professional, both of which require demonstrated proficiency in areas such as ethics and analysis.
These credentials are not generally required for employment. However, they may be helpful in the pursuit of certain positions, including public relations manager.
Given the importance of having the right degree when seeking out a PR job, it’s prudent to look for a program that combines a comprehensive curriculum with world-class faculty and instructional flexibility. The Master’s in Strategic Public Relations (SPR) from the George Washington University (GW) provides all of these benefits in one convenient online offering.
The GW SPR offers deep background in media relations, political socialization, public opinion, marketing communications and more. Be sure to visit the main program page for additional information; you can also download our brochure there.
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