Public Affairs and Communications
Public relations (PR) managers and specialists fall under the broad category of public affairs and communications and focus on maintaining a positive public image for their company or organization. They do so by managing interaction with media agencies, communicating with primary target groups, monitoring the organization’s online reputation, and managing internal communications to maintain a consistent brand.
A Day in the Life of a PR Manager
A day in the life of a public relations and communications professional could include any or all of the following tasks:
- Writing and distributing press releases to various media outlets
- Planning and hosting a press conference to share an announcement or the latest news
- Working with the marketing team to develop a social media strategy for better visibility and improved customer service
- Monitoring various online sites in order to protect the client’s reputation
- Writing or reviewing speeches for executives
- Meeting with clients to identify a target audience and discuss the best way to reach it
- Revising an internal memo from a senior executive prior to distribution
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Salary and Benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income of public relations specialists was $54,170 in 2012, while the median annual income of public relations managers was $95,450. Most employers offer standard benefits packages.
A bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, English, or a related field is a minimum requirement, and many communications professionals have earned advanced degrees in a related area as well. A Master of Public Administration prepares graduates to direct communication strategies for large government organizations and agencies in the public sector. Additional writing and speaking skills enable public relations specialists to communicate effectively, regardless of whether that communication occurs in person or in writing.
Challenges and Opportunities
Professionals in the communications field must think quickly in fast-changing situations. They need the knowledge and skills to be able to assess a given situation quickly to mount a rapid response.
Employment is projected to rise for public relations managers and public relations specialists alike from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With an anticipated growth of 13 percent and 12 percent respectively for each job title, the field is expected to grow on pace with the average for all occupations.
The Internet provides companies with the opportunity to share more than just a sales pitch. Many organizations now appreciate the value of community outreach and public relations, and they often create a specific position to handle these issues. The speed at which news travels online will continue to provide both challenges and opportunities for communications departments. Effective public relations specialists can respond to news, announcements, rumors, and issues as they arise in real time in order to maintain an organization’s reputation.
As more people get their news from social media sites rather than traditional news sources, public relations managers will be needed to help companies and organizations strategize how best to use these outlets to their benefit.