Public Relations Managers Overview

Public relations managers positions are highly coveted so candidates often face keen competition. Superior creativity, impressive computer skills and strong communication skills will help college graduates with related experience get ahead of the pack. While these jobs typically come with high salaries, long hours into evenings and weekends along with substantial travel are also par for the course. The high visibility and importance of these jobs can open doors for advancement to the top ranks.

Nature of the Work for Public Relations Managers

Public Relations Managers

Public relations managers are in charge of public relations activities within a company and sometimes cross over to advertising, promotion, product development, market research, sales and marketing strategy. The public relations efforts of small companies are often led by the owner or chief executive officer, while large firms offering a variety of products and services on a national or even global level may rely on an executive vice president to direct advertising, marketing and public relations efforts.

The planning and directing of public relations programs falls under the duties of public relations managers. They help create and maintain favorable images of their clients through press releases, corporate events and other tactics. Clarifying the company’s point of view is also important. Public relations managers key an eye on economic, political and social trends that could affect their clients and look for ways to use those trends to boost those clients’ images. Many of these workers choose to specialize in a particular industry or area such as healthcare or crisis management.

Public relations managers who work for large companies often take on supervisory roles over public relations specialists. To ensure advertising campaigns are in line with the image a client desires, they may collaborate with advertising and marketing departments. They produce company reports with the help of financial managers and create company newsletters and other internal communications. Workers in this position oversee company archives, respond to inquiries and help company executives maintain public contact through speeches, interviews and so on. Some public relations managers also manage special events that help garner public attention without advertising such as a new product introduction, parties or athletic event sponsorship.

Public relations managers typically work in offices near the offices of their top managers. Because deadlines and goals must constantly be met in the industry, working under pressure is often unavoidable especially as last minute problems or schedule changes arise.

Because public relations managers often need to meet with clients and customers or consult with other industry professionals, substantial travel may be required. Depending on the type of work, some public relations managers need to meet with government officials or special interest groups as well. In this field, transferring positions between corporate headquarters and regional offices is typical.

Working long hours in evenings and on weekends is all a part of the public relations industry. In fact, more than 80 percent of professionals in the field worked 40 hours or more per week in 2008.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Public Relations Managers

Recommended Education Level

While a variety of educational backgrounds can enter the field, most employers seek college graduates with experience in related occupations.

Public relations managers typically hold a bachelor’s degree in journalism or public relations or a masters degree in journalism or public relations and have taken courses in public speaking, public affairs, creative and technical writing, political science, advertising and business administration.

Many managerial positions are filled by promoting staff within that have experience in the field and with the particular company. For example, many public relations specialists later go on to be public relations managers. Those working in small firms will need to be patient for promotions to come, while larger firms typically advance staffers more quickly.

Because the internet is becoming more important for public relations managers and data management and recordkeeping is done digitally, computer skills are necessary to succeed. Foreign language communication skills are also becoming increasingly favorable for professionals in the industry, particularly those who will work in cities with large Spanish-speaking populations.

The best candidates for public relations managers jobs are mature, decisive, flexible, resistant to stress, highly motivated and incredibly creative. This career also demands individuals who can communicate in a persuasive and genuine way with the public as well as their managers and staff. Good judgment and tact along with a natural ability to develop effective personal relationships is key for working with clients and supervisory and professional staff members.

Public relations managers can partake in certification programs, which can be particularly important since the job market is so competitive. These certifications add to a professional’s resume indicating achievement and competence. Only a small portion of public relations managers seek certification, but that percentage is expected to grow. Many management certification programs are available based on education and job performance. Plus, the Public Relations Society of America offers a public relations certification based on an exam and years of experience.

For the most part, leadership skills, experience and ability are the main attributes employers look at when handing out promotions, but those who participate in management training programs at larger companies may be able to enjoy career advancement sooner. Many companies provide continuing education options ot their employees as well whether in-house, through local colleges and universities or by encouraging participation in conferences and seminars. Many professional associations sponsor management training programs on a local or national scale as well. These programs typically cover international marketing, brand and product management, product promotion, market research, organizational communication, marketing communication and more. What’s more, many companies cover all or some of the cost of continuing education for employees.

Public relations managers are often some of the first in line for advancement to the highest ranks thanks to the importance and high visibility of their positions. Experienced, well-trained and successful managers often are promoted to higher positions within their company or find higher-level jobs in other companies. Many managers who possess enough capital and have gained extensive experience in the field open their own businesses.

Top 10 Most Popular Public Relations/Image Management Schools

1. The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)
2. University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)
3. University of Houston (Houston, Texas)
4. The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
5. University of South Carolina, Columbia (Columbia, South Carolina)
6. Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas)
7. University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
8. Texas State University (San Marcos, Texas)
9. Quinnipiac University, Hamden (Hamden, Connecticut)
10. Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant, Michigan)

See All Public Relations/Image Management Schools

Most Popular Online Public Relations/Image Management Schools

1. University of Maryland University College
2. Golden Gate University - Online School
3. Marylhurst University - Online School

Employment and Job Outlook for Public Relations Managers

Number of People in Profession

53,270

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average (increase 7 - 13%).

In 2008, 56,700 public relations managers were working. While these positions span throughout nearly every industry, almost half of all public relations managers worked in service-providing industries such as healthcare and social assistance, public and private educational services, finance and insurance and professional, scientific and technical services.

The competition is always fierce for managerial positions like these. Between 2008 and 2018, public relations managers should see an increase in jobs of about 13 percent, which is comparable to other average growing occupations. Industry growth will be in part because of the growing desire to make a product or service stand out in the crowd against a rapidly expanding marketplace. Plus, traditional advertising through newspapers, radio and television networks is waning creating a need for innovative, creative ways to promote and advertise products and services to increase customer engagement.

In the public relations industry, more organizations are looking to boost community outreach and forge customer relationships to improve reputations and visibility. This is especially important among the growing number of nonprofits including hospitals, education services and business and professional associations. Many public relations managers will have to promote the mission of an organization and encourage members to join or use the services.

As workers retire or leave the occupation, many job opportunities will arise. That said, the competition will still be tough as managerial positions are often sought after professionals with extensive experience and other managers who could be coming from related careers. College graduates need to have incredible creativity, communication skills and computer abilities to find positions and related work experience is also important. Employers often look for cutting edge professionals who are ready to tackle new forms of public relations using the Web and other forms of new media.

Earnings and Salary for Public Relations Managers

Public relations managers earn median annual wages of $89,430. In this career, salaries can vary substantially due to the employee’s length of service, level of managerial responsibility and education as well as the size and location of the firm and the industry the firm is involved in. For example, compared to non manufacturing firms, manufacturing firms usually pay higher salaries to managers.

Annual Salary for Public Relations Managers

On average, Public Relations Managers earn $89,690 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $47,800/yr $64,820/yr $125,220/yr $166,400/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook