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.

What Does a Public Relations Manager Do?

A public relations manager is the person in charge of running PR campaigns for a company or person, using their skills to give their client a positive reputation and image to the public. This can be done through a variety of means, such as monitoring public opinions and social climate, speaking to media officials, appointing a spokesperson, helping clients effectively communicate their intentions, and more. Depending on the size of a corporation, PR managers may supervise teams of PR specialists, as well. It is also the responsibility of these professionals to ensure the things they say are factual, as lying can in many cases be punishable by legal action for the individual or organization they represent.

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 (2014-2024) 7% (for all public relations and fundraising managers)*
Median Salary (2015) $104,140 (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 ( 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 ( PR specialists held about 218,910 jobs in 2015. 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 60,380 people were employed as public relations and fundraising managers in 2015. From 2014-2024 employment was projected to rise 7% to 70,500. 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 2015, you could have earned a median annual salary of $104,140 by working as a public relations manager.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Fundraising managers makeup a related type of professional that oversee and organize campaigns to raise donations for an organization, such as a charity. In addition, a market research analyst uses some of the same skills a PR manager would find invaluable in their job, such as monitoring market trends to try and predict the sales for a particular product or service a company is offering.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »