How to Become a Public Relations Manager in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a public relations manager. Learn about salary, employment outlook and degree requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Public Relations degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information At a Glance
A number of important skills, as well as related experience is needed to become a public relations manager. Find out more about this competitive field by reviewing the information in the table.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Public relations, journalism, communications|
|Key Skills||Leadership, writing, speaking, problem-solving|
|Certification||Certification is voluntary|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||13% (for all public relations and fundraising managers)*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$98,700 (for all public relations and fundraising managers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is a Public Relations Manager?
Public relations managers are administrators who oversee campaigns that either bolster the public image of their clients or raise funds for clients. In such a position, you might also monitor and use economic, political and social trends to enhance a client's image or help protect them from unfavorable policy developments. In many instances you might specialize in a particular industry or area. Your specific duties include establishing lines of communication between media outlets and government regulators; planning PR campaigns; writing speeches, conducting interviews or arranging interviews for clients; coordinating PR campaigns with a client's advertising and marketing efforts; assigning duties to staffers and managing budgets.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Figures from O*Net OnLine show that about 78% of public relations managers have a bachelor's degree (www.onetonline.org). A bachelor's degree program in public relations examines communication theory and develops your ability to craft and present persuasive messages visually, orally and in writing. Courses address such topics as marketing principles, multicultural communication, media history and media research. Some programs end with a capstone project in which you design and execute a public relations campaign.
Step 2: Participate in an Internship
An internship enables you to observe and participate in a public relations operation and make contacts with industry professionals. Corporate PR departments, TV stations and public relations agencies are some work settings that offer internships. Bachelor's degree programs may also include an internship as a required part of their curriculum. Sometimes you can gain a full time job after you graduate at the same firm where you interned.
Step 3: Find a Job in Public Relations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public relations managers are typically promoted from a lower-level position such as a public relations specialist (www.bls.gov). PR specialists held about 202,000 jobs in 2013. Advertising agencies, schools, healthcare and social service providers, government agencies and financial institutions are your potential employers. Your duties in the lower-level position include writing press releases, creating visual presentations and maintaining contacts between your client and the public.
Step 4: Obtain Certification
Certification isn't a requirement, but it can demonstrate your competence, professionalism and experience, and can improve your prospects for advancement. You can obtain the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential from the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), an umbrella group for nine public relations associations. The APR certification exam tests your knowledge and skills in ten areas, including communications models, public relations history and media relations. Certification is valid for three years.
You could also earn accreditation from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). IABC accreditation is open to any business professional with sufficient knowledge and experience in communication, including PR specialists and managers. To qualify for the accreditation exam you have to submit a portfolio containing at least two communication projects you've planned and implemented. The exam consists of a written test and an oral test, and evaluates your knowledge in such areas as audience research, project management and communications technology.
Step 5: Obtain a Job as a Public Relations Manager
Your potential employers include the same set of businesses, organizations and institutions that employ public relations specialists. The BLS reports that 53,730 people were employed as public relations and fundraising managers in 2013. From 2012-2022 employment was projected to rise 13% to 70,100. The growing level of attention needed by online social media, professional groups and business associations contribute to the increase in job prospects. As of May 2013, you could have earned a median annual salary of $98,700 by working as a public relations manager.
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