What Is a PR Firm and What Does It Do?

Updated June 24, 2022

A PR firm offers various public relations services, from writing press releases and speeches to conducting market research and helping maintain your brand’s reputation and reach. Whether the client is a company or a public figure, a solid public relations strategy is essential to maintaining a positive brand identity. It involves a wide range of services that all require a unique blend of creative thinking, problem-solving and the ability to analyze and interpret data. In this article, we discuss what a PR firm is, the services they offer and careers in public relations.

Create a Resume on Indeed

What is a PR firm?

A PR firm is a company of public relations experts that specializes in managing public image and engaging with a client’s audience. A brand’s public image determines whether its audience and potential customers trust it, like it or are aware of it. Despite some similarities, public relations is not the same thing as marketing. While both processes are meant to spread positive impressions and increase brand awareness, PR does not make use of paid promotional content or advertising. Instead, it relies on organic methods such as writing editorials or blogs, organizing public events and engaging with audiences via traditional or social media.

Related: 4 Steps To Building a Brand

What services does a PR firm offer?

Here are the common services that a PR firm typically performs:

  • Media relations

  • Strategy development

  • Content marketing

  • Event coordinating and experiential marketing

Media relations

A PR firm invests time and energy into maintaining positive relationships with key people in the media who can help them place press releases or editorials, book TV or radio appearances and otherwise promote a company. The media is an important tool for amplifying a brand’s voice and growing brand awareness in a different way from paid advertising.

Without pre-existing contacts in the media and a keen understanding of what makes a story newsworthy, it can be challenging to get a story picked up. Working with a PR firm allows a company to take advantage of that insider access and knowledge without having to invest the time and effort required to establish it themselves.

Strategy development

Public relations requires an effective and coherent strategy that stretches across every point of contact between a brand and the public. This involves coordinating a diverse range of tasks, from the media relations described above through event planning in a way that takes advantage of the opportunities unique to each one, while still preserving a unified and consistent brand voice or brand image across all of them. 

PR strategies might include:

  • Writing content for a company blog

  • Writing internal communications within your company or messages between your company and another 

  • Sponsoring or hosting a local event to establish the company’s connection to a community

  • Holding press conferences to publicly respond to a crisis or announce important news

Related: Creating a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

Content marketing

Content is an umbrella term referring to everything from a blog post to a press release. While it uses the term marketing, PR firms specialize in unpaid, organic content marketing. This might take the form of maintaining a blog that establishes a company as an expert or go-to source for information on topics in their industry. It might also involve more fun and entertaining content, depending on what fits the brand identity best.

Great content, whether it’s mostly for fun or mostly for information, is one of the most powerful tools for attracting and keeping a broad audience of potential customers and brand promoters. When a brand is recognized as credible and engaging, people are more likely to share that content and think of that brand when they are searching for a product or service in the industry.

Event coordinating and experiential marketing

In addition to developing the overarching strategy and refining your messaging across different channels, PR firms will also organize events or experiential campaigns, which are some of the most effective and enduring means of audience engagement and brand awareness promotion. This can be anything from representing a company at festivals or conferences to organizing entire events hosted by the company.

Types of PR jobs

If you’re interested in a career in public relations, consider these positions:

  1. Social media manager

  2. Publicist

  3. Copywriter

  4. PR specialist

  5. Spokesperson

1. Social media manager

National average salary: $48,050 per year

Primary duties: A social media manager is responsible for promoting the brand and engaging with audiences across various social media channels, as well as coordinating and developing unique brand voices for each channel. Their daily duties might include creating a social media calendar of content that aligns with the overall PR strategy, interacting with audiences on all channels via comments and posts written in the brand’s voice and tracking various data points to monitor the success of particular campaigns and strategies.

Excelling in this position requires creativity, an ability to adapt to different brand voices and a detail-oriented, analytical mind that can both develop overarching plans and execute the day-to-day steps involved in those plans.

2. Publicist

National average salary: $49,895 per year

Primary duties: This is the position that works with the client to develop a unique public relations strategy. They then use that strategy to come up with specific campaigns, events and outreach that will most effectively execute that strategy. Where their job becomes most challenging is in managing crises. When negative press about a client is published, the publicist must quickly figure out the best way for the client’s brand to recover. To excel in this job, a publicist needs to be detail-oriented, innovative and a natural problem solver.

3. Copywriter

National average salary: $51,587 per year

Primary duties: Copywriters in PR firms execute publicity strategies by writing press releases, speeches, blog posts, social media content and other materials. They have to be versatile enough to write in a variety of different brand voices and adapt that voice to fit various types of campaign or PR content. This job requires a high level of creativity, adaptability and the ability to write copy within tight deadlines.

4. PR specialist

National average salary: $54,668

Primary duties: A PR specialist is an indispensable part of the PR firm’s team. Their main responsibility is to maintain good relationships with journalists and other media contacts who can help them place press releases, book TV appearances, air speeches and other promotional media strategies. They do this by combining a journalist’s instinct for pinpointing what is most newsworthy about their client with a marketer’s ability to showcase the most positive and unique features of that client.

5. Spokesperson

National average salary: $50,211

Primary duties: Spokespeople generally work in-house for the company. Their job is to act as the face of the brand by representing the company in public appearances, speeches and on TV. They need to be expert public speakers who are comfortable improvising while still maintaining the brand’s voice.

They also need to have the wherewithal to respond to criticism and bear the brunt of negative press when crises occur. This position takes a lot of creativity, quick thinking and being comfortable under intense attention.

How to get a job in PR

If you are interested in working in public relations, here are a few steps to help you start your career:

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

There is no specific degree requirement for a public relations career, but most job listings will ask for a bachelor’s degree. Many people who work in PR get a degree in journalism, communications, English or a similar field that helps them develop a strong grasp of language, tone and both verbal and written communication skills.

2. Start networking and building connections

More than a specific degree or certification, getting a job in PR is about connections. Because the nature of the work is all about engaging with audiences and managing brand identities and reputations, PR firms look for people who are already plugged into social media and great at networking.

You can begin by becoming active on social media and attending networking events to start meeting people in the industry. Reach out to people who are already doing the job you want and ask them questions about it.

You may also want to start developing contacts in media as well, as these contacts will be an attractive asset to potential employers. All of these things may not directly lead to a specific job in PR, but they can help establish you as someone who knows how to build and maintain professional relationships, which is an essential skill in public relations.

3. Write a resume and custom cover letter that stand out

Once you’re ready to start applying for PR jobs, make sure your resume showcases your social and creative skills. Use your cover letter to demonstrate not only your achievements and experience but also your personality. Treat it like a press release or blog post meant to pitch your brand in a positive light.

Related Articles

What is Public Relations? What You Need To Know About a Career in PR

Explore more articles

  • 16 Computer Information Systems Jobs
  • 25 Career Options for Former Military Members
  • 8 Medical Professions That Involve Work With Children (Plus Tips)
  • 26 In-Demand Jobs You Can Do From Home or Remote Sites
  • How To Become an Economist in 5 Steps (And What They Do)
  • 15 Low-Stress Jobs To Explore
  • 11 Careers in Corporate Finance
  • FBI vs. US Marshal: Differences and Tips for Careers
  • 14 Jobs for Working With Older Adults
  • 10 Types of Business Majors and the Differences Between Them
  • How To Walk In and Apply For a Job
  • Pros and Cons of Being a Mechanical Engineer (Plus Duties)