Careers in Public Relations

Mary Gormandy White
PR jobs can be fun!
PR jobs can be fun!

Are you interested in finding out about careers in public relations? Working in this field can be a very rewarding career opportunity for the right person. Before you decide to pursue a career in the field, it's a good idea to learn about what types of tasks PR practitioners are likely to perform and what skills are necessary to succeed in the profession.

About Careers in Public Relations

Jobs in public relations may vary greatly from one company to another. To succeed in this field, it's typically necessary to have strong communication skills, organizational abilities, and an outgoing personality. Additionally, a solid understand the principles of marketing and the basics of psychology are essential to this line of work.

Some of the most common tasks performed by PR practitioners include:

  • Audio/video production
  • Blogging
  • Copywriting (brochures, flyers, website content, etc.)
  • Crisis communication
  • Event planning
  • Fundraising
  • Graphic layout and design
  • Interviews
  • Marketing research
  • Media relations
  • Public speaking
  • Publicity
  • Soliciting sponsorships
  • Special event planning
  • Speech writing
  • Strategic planning
  • Trade show participation
  • Website management
  • Writing for the media (news releases, media alerts, etc.)
  • Additional similar duties

PR Employers

There are opportunities for skilled PR professionals to pursue careers in agency and corporate settings, as well as in the nonprofit sector.

Public Relations Agency

Many practitioners work in public relations agencies, as well as in advertising agencies that have PR divisions. Individuals who work in this environment handle a variety of marketing and communication tasks on behalf of the firm's clients. Small agencies sometimes employ one or two professionals who handle many different types of PR tasks, while larger firms with larger staffs tend to hire specialists with expertise in particular aspects of the industry.

Corporate Public Relations

Many large companies have internal public relations departments, staffed by professionals who focus solely on performing communication and marketing duties for their own employer. In some cases, companies that employ an in-house PR person or team of PR professionals also work with a public relations agency to assist with various tasks. In this situation, the corporate practitioner serves as the liaison between the company and the firm, deciding what tasks to handle within the company and outsourcing other activities to the agency.

PR for Nonprofit Organizations

Many nonprofit organizations employ public relations professionals. In small charitable organizations, the executive director often handles PR functions in addition to the operations management aspects of running the organization. In larger organizations, there is often a dedicated public relations person, or someone who divides time between PR and fundraising responsibilities.

Preparing for a PR Career

Education

Most employers prefer to hire people who have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Many people enter the field after earning degrees in fields like:

  • Communication Arts
  • English
  • Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Mass Communications
  • Psychology
  • Public Relations
  • Other related fields

Experience

In addition to earning an appropriate academic credential, you should also be prepared to demonstrate to prospective employers that you have practical experience relevant to the practice of public relations. Most employers expect applicants for PR positions to be able to show a portfolio of completed work. Start building your portfolio while you are in school and continue updating it throughout your career.

Additionally, it's advisable to gain practical experience through volunteer work opportunities and internship programs. Participating in these types of activities is an excellent way to build a pool of professional references who can vouch for your skills and work ethic.

Certification

Once you have been working in the field for a while, you may want to earn the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential awarded through the Public Relations Society of America. This certification offers a way to distinguish yourself as an individual with the highest levels of skill and knowledge in the field. Employers tend to look at the credential in a very favorable light, and many of the highest level jobs are reserved for certified practitioners.

PRSA

To learn more about careers in public relations as well as to make valuable contacts with leaders in the occupation, consider joining and becoming active with a top professional association, such as the Public Relations Society of America or the Southern Public Relations Federation.

Careers in Public Relations