How To Become a Public Relations Manager in 6 Steps

Updated July 21, 2022

Public relations is a dynamic and exciting field for individuals interested in communications, developing brand image and maintaining client relations. Public relations managers have the important responsibility of leading public relations, communication and marketing teams during their development and orchestration of important events, campaigns and media engagements. Understanding the steps involved in pursuing this competitive career path can help you prepare for the process. In this article, we define public relations managers, discuss their responsibilities, salary, job outlook and work environment with steps to help you successfully become a public relations manager.

Related: How To Become a Public Relations Specialist

What is a public relations manager?

Public relations managers work in a wide range of industries to create, promote and improve the public's perception of a brand, business or organization. To do this, they carefully manage corporate events, schedule and review press releases, test the social and economic impact of their clients, observe political trends, develop public outreach strategies and advise their clients on ways to improve and benefit from their public image. Often, public relations managers act as supervisors to other public relations, communications or marketing staff.

Related: What Can You Do With a Public Relations Degree?

What does a public relations manager do?

The responsibilities of public relations managers vary, depending on the industry in which they work and the public relations goals of their clients. Common duties of public relations managers may include:

  • Write, review and edit press releases and write information for the media

  • Identify target client and audience groups and implement optimal ways to connect with them

  • Act as or manage a spokesperson to interact with the media

  • Design and implement client communication strategies

  • Curate the development of a brand, business or organization's public image and identity

  • Create advertising and promotion programs

  • Assign, review and supervise the tasks and activities of their support staff, such as public relations, marketing and communications employees

Related: What Are Public Relations Jobs? (With Examples and Positions)

Public relations manager salary

The national average salary for public relations managers is $56,214 per year. Industry, seniority level and areas of expertise may cause variances in salaries among public relations managers. Additionally, the location of the agency or organization that a public relations manager works for can also affect earning potential.

Related: 40 Public Relations Job Titles: Entry-Level, Mid-Level and Senior Roles

Public relations manager job outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of public relations managers to grow by 9% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average of all occupations. This increase in demand may come from organizations' growing need to maintain their public image and identity, especially as the influence of social media continues to rise.

Public relations manager work environment

Public relations managers usually have office-based positions and work 40 hours a week during regular business hours. Frequent travel is possible when engaging in social, public speaking, media or networking events and overtime may occur depending on the workload. These individuals spend a significant amount of time meeting with and supervising their staff, communicating with their clients, engaging with the media, building their networks, attending publicity events and connecting with the public via social media. Depending on the industry, they may encounter celebrities, socialites or other well-known clients.

Related: Public Relations: Everything You Need To Know About Working in PR

Public relations manager skills

Successful public relations managers often have a combination of hard skills, soft skills and personality traits, including:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

  • Advanced interpersonal skills

  • Presentation and public speaking abilities

  • IT knowledge and computer skills, especially digital forms of communication and social media

  • Prioritization and effective planning skills

  • Awareness of media agendas

  • Creativity

  • Leadership abilities

  • Awareness of current local and international events

  • Relationship-building skills

  • Research abilities

  • Strategic thinking

  • Ability to multi-task

  • Remaining calm under pressure

  • Adapting quickly to change

Read more: Essential Public Relations Skills and How To Improve Them

How to become a public relations manager

Understanding the steps and requirements needed to become a public relations manager is an important step of the process and can help prepare you for pursuing this profession. Follow these steps to learn how to become a public relations manager:

1. Pursue an education

Typically, public relations managers hold a bachelor's degree in communications, media writing, journalism, marketing or a related field. Consider enrolling in a relevant four-year university program to learn valuable skills and knowledge that will help you on your way to becoming a public relations manager. Because of the competitive nature of entry-level positions in this field, consider taking part in an internship while enrolled in your degree program. Internships are a great way to gain working experience in public relations and add industry professionals to your network of resources. You may find internships through your university, classified ads or online job forums.

2. Gain relevant work experience

After graduating from a university and completing an internship, consider seeking entry-level positions in public relations. This could include working under the supervision of a public relations manager, as a communications specialist, social media manager, public relations assistant or marketing associate. Consider seeking entry-level employment through your network of public relations professionals, your connections from your university or internship, online job search engines or classified ads.

In order to become a public relations manager, you'll most likely need to complete three to five years of relevant work. These entry-level positions are a great way to gain experience and insightful knowledge that will help you advance your career in public relations.

3. Receive a certification

While it isn't a standard requirement, some aspiring public relations managers choose to receive certification in order to stand out from the competition and gain specialized knowledge and training. There are two main bodies of certification for aspiring public relations managers to consider:

  • The Universal Accreditation Board: This organization offers certification through the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation program. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree in public relations, communication, journalism or a related field and five years of relevant work experience.

  • The International Associate of Business Communicators: This organization offers the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) certification to public relations professionals with a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and nine years of work experience.

4. Build your network

When pursuing a career as a public relations manager, it's important to foster strong relationships with other professionals in your field. Whenever possible, consider joining discussion forums, community events or social gatherings for public relations, communications and marketing professionals to connect with others in your line of work. The connections you make during these events could lead you to exciting employment opportunities in the future.

5. Train for management

There are several training opportunities for public relations professionals who wish to advance to management positions. Consider researching seminars, training and courses that could help you develop the managerial skills necessary for a supervisory career in public relations. Sometimes, companies will provide access to or pay for this type of education. If possible, try discussing this option with your employer.

6. Apply for public relations manager positions

After completing your education, gaining relevant work experience, receiving certification, building your network and training for management, consider applying for public relations manager positions through professional connections, online job search sites or classified ads. Sometimes, promotion may be an option within the organization with which you're currently employed. Consider exploring options of internal advancement before seeking other opportunities.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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