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Public Relations Manager Job Description, Career as a Public Relations Manager, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College plus training

Salary: Median—$70,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

A public relations (PR) manager supervises staffs of public relations workers, some of whom may be specialists in a particular kind of media. They also direct publicity programs that are designed to improve the public image of the organization that employs them. In industry they direct information to groups such as stockholders, consumers, their firm's own employees, or the general public. A PR manager may be called on to clarify the company's point of view on important issues to community or public interest groups. In some firms such as pharmaceutical companies or automobile manufacturers PR managers may evaluate sales promotion programs to make sure they are compatible with public relations efforts.

Another function of the public relations manager is to improve management and employee relations. The PR manager may prepare and publish the in-house Before the conference begins, the public relations manager instructs her staff on how to make the presentation. (© Charles Gupton/Corbis.) newsletter or produce instructional and motivational videos in cooperation with labor relations managers. PR managers often confer with other top management officials to produce annual reports on the financial status of the firm. They sometimes draft speeches with chief executives, supervise a company's archives, or respond to information queries from news media, stockholders, and the general public.

The greatest number of public relations managers can be found in private industry and in independent PR agencies. Many are also hired by the federal, state, and local governments, where they are usually called public information officers. Other organizations that often require public relations managers are colleges, universities, and hospitals.

Education and Training Requirements

Public relations managers often have advanced degrees in the field in which they work. An information manager in government may need a master's degree in public administration. A master's degree in business administration would be advantageous for a public relations manager in business or industry. Some employers prefer to hire a person with a master's degree in public relations or journalism. Whatever their level of education, a prospective PR manager's curriculum should include courses in advertising, business administration, psychology, sociology, public affairs, political science, journalism, creative and technical writing, word processing, and graphic and audiovisual production.

A public relations manager should participate in seminars and continuing education programs to stay up-to-date in the field. Many employers are impressed by a PR executive who has taken the accreditation exam offered by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Accreditation requires five years' experience and successful completion of a written and an oral test.

Regardless of education, the most important qualities in public relations managers are written and oral communication skills, imagination, enthusiasm, managerial style, charm, and an intimate knowledge of the field and of the organization for whom they work.

Getting the Job

Public relations managers are often hired from the experienced PR staff within an organization. They sometimes follow a multilevel career path that starts with an entry-level public relations trainee position and culminates in the post of account executive or public relations director. This path can take ten or more years to complete. Promotion depends on a public relations worker's history of contribution to successful projects, ability to generate fresh ideas, understanding of the organization's objectives, communication and managerial skills, educational advancement, and ability to work with a wide variety of people.

A good place to start a career in public relations is with a nonprofit organization. A candidate can obtain valuable experience and training and then move into a higher-level position in private industry, which has a higher pay scale. Executive search recruiters, sometimes called "headhunters," are a good source for finding out about managerial openings, as are advertisements in the leading professional journals and Internet job banks. The PRSA offers job leads and professional contacts to qualified individuals.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Because of the high visibility and importance of their jobs, public relations managers are often prime candidates for advancement to top executive positions. An advanced degree might give a candidate an advantage when applying for a top position. Competition in this field is very keen. Advancement is generally based on experience, leadership, and ability, but it can be hastened by active participation in the management training programs offered by some larger firms. Additional training programs and seminars are available through local colleges and universities.

The employment outlook for public relations managers through the year 2014 is very good. Job openings will occur as many managers move into top management positions or retire. The largest number of job openings are expected to be found in the data processing services industry and in management and public relations firms.

Working Conditions

Public relations managers usually have offices close to the top executives of the organization. PR firms, regardless of size, maintain attractive offices, as they are often the meeting ground for visitors such as media representatives and the public.

Long hours, business dinners, press luncheons, and weekend or evening meetings are not uncommon in this line of work. Public relations managers must work well under pressure. Travel may be required to meet with the public, clients, special interest groups, or government officials.

Earnings and Benefits

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a public relations manager is $70,000 per year. Salaries vary according to experience, location, and type of employer. A successful public relations manager can earn as much as $250,000 per year.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Business Communicators
One Hallidie Plaza, Ste. 600
San Francisco, CA 94102-2818
(415) 544-4700

National School Public Relations Association
15948 Derwood Rd.
Rockville, MD 20855
(301) 519-0496

Public Relations Society of America
33 Maiden Ln., 11th Fl.
New York, NY 10038-5150
(212) 460-1400

Benefits usually include health insurance, the payment of tuition for professional education, paid vacations and associations dues, and retirement plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts