Public Relations Career Guide: Top Roles, Duties and Working in PR

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Individuals who work in a company's public relations department play an important role in ensuring the company projects a positive image to the general public. If you are interested in a career in public relations, there are several different types of jobs you can choose from. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about working in public relations including important skills for PR professionals and a list of the top jobs in the public relations field.

What is public relations?

Public relations, also commonly referred to as PR, is any activity a company does to raise brand awareness and promote a positive public image of their company. The primary goal of public relations is to create news and stories about the company worthy of being published by newspapers, magazines and other promotional media publications.

The belief behind public relations is that positive media attention raises brand awareness, builds brand loyalty and encourages people to purchase the company's products or services or support their ideas or message.

Related: 16 Top Communications Degree Jobs

Skills for PR professionals

If you are interested in pursuing a career in public relations, here are a few important skills you should have (or be able to develop):

  • Communication: Communication skills include the ability to effectively communicate a brand's message both verbally and in writing.

  • Presentation skills: PR professionals use presentation skills to present media pitches to publications and to present their company's message and image to the public in a positive manner.

  • Detail-oriented: Being detail-oriented in PR is important because it allows you to focus on the various details involved with creating and executing comprehensive public relations campaigns.

  • Organization: The work of a PR professional often varies on a daily basis, so it is important to have good organizational skills to ensure you complete tasks accurately and efficiently.

  • Networking: The ability to network with other media and PR professionals is important because successful public relations campaigns rely on third parties to distribute their message to the public.

  • Research: PR professionals need the ability to complete market research to determine what the public's perception of their company is and to use that research to create public relations campaigns that improve and protect their company's public image.

  • Social media: Understanding how to use different social media platforms is important for many PR professionals because social media allows companies to quickly share their message with a wide public audience, engage with the public in a meaningful way and use brand ambassadors to raise brand awareness, increase company sales and create brand loyalty.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

Top jobs in public relations

Here is a list of the top jobs available within the public relations field:

  1. Public relations intern

  2. Public relations assistant

  3. Event coordinator

  4. Communications coordinator

  5. Marketing associate

  6. Social media manager

  7. Event manager

  8. Communications specialist

  9. Publicist

  10. Editor

  11. Copywriter

  12. Public relations manager

  13. Account executive

  14. Media director

1. Public relations intern

National average salary: $13.11 per hour

Primary duties: Screen phone calls, greet guests and visitors, schedule events, attend meetings and brainstorming sessions, write press releases, contact media outlets, create media kits, collect data and use that data to create fact sheets.

2. Public relations assistant

National average salary: $15.29 per hour

Primary duties: Support the public relations team by completing administrative tasks such as filing, copying, answering public relations inquiries via phone and email, maintain the public relations database and keep track of PR materials.

Public relations assistants also assist the public relations team in developing and distributing public relations materials and may be responsible for monitoring the company's social media accounts.

3. Event coordinator

National average salary: $15.83 per hour

Primary duties: Plan and coordinate all company events, including both internal and public events. The event coordinator is often responsible for planning and coordinating all details of a company's event such as finding and booking the location, arranging catering, scheduling speakers and sending invites. The event coordinator often also participates in the event to ensure everything runs smoothly and provides help to event staff where needed.

Related: Learn About Being an Event Planner

4. Communications coordinator

National average salary: $43,460 per year

Primary duties: Creates public relations and marketing materials such as press releases, newsletters and blog posts. Communications coordinators are also responsible for tracking and reporting analytics about the success of marketing and communications campaigns.

5. Marketing associate

National average salary: $45,586 per year

Primary duties: Assists marketing managers by forecasting trends, collecting data and assessing customer satisfaction and supports the marketing department by carrying out daily tasks that help marketing managers and account executives in completing their tasks.

Related: Learn About Being a Marketing Specialist

6. Social media manager

National average salary: $48,716 per year

Primary duties: Acts as the voice of a brand by representing the company across several different social media channels. Social media managers engage with the public by responding to comments and creating content, devising and maintaining a content schedule and social media marketing campaigns and monitoring what is said about the company on social media.

Related: Learn About Being a Social Media Manager

7. Event manager

National average salary: $49,090 per year

Primary duties: Similar to the role of an event coordinator, event managers are responsible for planning and executing all details of both internal and public company events. The difference between an event coordinator and an event manager is that an event manager also plays a large role in the design and decor of an event, whereas an event coordinator works to find and arrange vendors for an event.

8. Communication specialist

National average salary: $50,213 per year

Primary duties: Communication specialists are also often called "public relations specialists". Responsibilities include maintaining relationships with media outlets, writing press releases, handling media inquiries, coordinating public appearances for organizational leaders, monitoring public opinion and evaluating the success of communication campaigns.

9. Publicist

National average salary: $50,414 per year

Primary duties: Similar to the role of a communication specialist or public relations specialist, publicists assist their clients with presenting a positive image to the public by preparing media kits and press releases, pitching their client to media outlets, handling media inquiries, scheduling interviews, coordinating public appearances, monitoring mentions about their client in the media, arranging photo and video shoots, managing social media and ensuring their client's branding remains cohesive.

Related: Learn About Being a Publicist

10. Editor

National average salary: $50,776 per year

Primary duties: Review a company's content for spelling and grammatical errors, fact check the company's content for accuracy and edit and rewrite the content as necessary.

11. Copywriter

National average salary: $52,613 per year

Primary duties: Creates written content that is used for marketing and advertising such as website content, blog articles, brochures, billboards, whitepapers, email and more. A copywriter is responsible for researching and fact-checking information and using that information to create original, engaging promotional content for their company.

Related: Learn About Being a Copywriter

12. Public relations manager

National average salary: $57,018 per year

Primary duties: Oversee the work of public relations specialists, communication specialists, public relations assistants and public relations coordinators. Public relations managers may also prepare media kits, write press releases, organize press conferences, write speeches for organizational leaders, pitch stories to media outlets, answer media inquiries and handle all crisis and emergency communications.

Related: Learn About Being a Public Relations Account Manager

13. Account executive

National average salary: $66,646 per year

Primary duties: Meet with clients to identify their needs, conduct market research on the client's target audience, create public relations strategies, present clients with proposals for approval and manage client accounts while seeking to find the best media exposure possible for their clients.

Related: Learn About Being an Account Executive

14. Media director

National average salary: $95,986 per year

Primary duties: Oversees the work of a company's entire public relations and marketing team to ensure the correct image of the company is always being presented to the media and public, creates public relation strategies and writes or approves media communications, monitors any mentions about their company in the media, acts as the official company spokesperson, maintains a positive public image and reputation for the company and responds to emergency or crisis communications.

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