Many corporations and agencies hire public relations managers to not only manage accounts but perform an array of tasks, including writing press releases and speeches, arranging interviews, answering questions from the media, compiling information and helping develop an organization’s corporate image. They may also contact media organizations to pitch ideas for stories about their company or products.
Many public relations managers handle in-house communications as well, meaning they are involved in writing, reviewing and compiling company newsletters and other internal publications. Public relations staff members often work with advertising and marketing departments to ensure that an organization’s message remains clear, accurate and consistent.
Additionally, public relations managers may be called upon to appear at corporate and community events, and spearhead fundraising campaigns. The unpredictable nature of the job means these professionals must be quick learners, solid public speakers and comfortable working under potentially stressful conditions.
Public relations managers coordinate with executives and often supervise public relations specialists.
Job Outlook and Salary Range for Public Relations Managers
Jobs for public relations managers are projected to increase by 13% between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The growth will be fueled, in part, by organizations’ increasing emphasis on community involvement and visibility. The explosion of social media and the rising number of ways for organizations to communicate with the public will also boost employment opportunities in public relations.
Competition will be stronger for some positions, particularly as the downsizing of the newspaper industry and other traditional media organizations results in more journalists seeking employment in public relations.
As of May 2012, there were more than 62,000 public relations and fundraising managers employed nationwide, with the largest single group working for postsecondary institutions. The median annual salary was $95,450, with the top 10% earning more than $180,000, according to the BLS. Average salaries were highest ($173,720) for professionals employed by wireless carriers.
Education and Training for Public Relations Managers
A bachelor’s degree is typically required for a career in public relations. Coursework in public speaking, business administration, advertising, and creative and technical writing can be helpful, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
Some employers may prefer public relations managers who have an undergraduate degree in public relations, journalism or communications. Others may call for applicants for management positions to have a master’s degree. In order to become a public relations manager, candidates typically must have at least a few years of experience in the profession, according to the BLS.
A successful public relations manager should possess a wide range of skills, from networking and public speaking to writing, researching and problem solving. Strong organizational skills are also recommended as public relations managers are often tasked with organizing several events at a time.
Professional credential and certification programs are available, including the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation offered by the Public Relations Society of America and the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation from the International Association of Business Communicators.