What Kind of Jobs are in Public Relations? - An Intro

By Tiara Ogabang

The career buffet

The world of public relations is vast and varied, with hundreds of different PR agencies all over the world, if not thousands. 

In the past, only a select few professionals in very specific fields felt that they required bespoke PR services, but in the internet age, just about every professional out there can benefit in some way from taking control of their public image and grooming that image to match their goals. 

Doctors, lawyers, business professionals, and freelancers are now finding that professional PR services are for them as well. 

For PR pros, this means that there’s more work to be done than ever before, so it’s no wonder that many young people as well as older professionals looking to switch careers are interested in entering PR. 

But where in the larger PR industry will you fit in? What kind of jobs are in public relations today? What do they entail? 

We hope you’ll join us for this short and sweet explanation of some of the most prominent PR jobs and the skillsets that match those jobs. 

It’s time to find where you’re going to flourish. 

Entry-level public relations officer 

As the name of this position implies, this is one PR job that you’re more likely to get if you’ve only recently graduated from a related university program. 

Some agencies prefer to hire PR officers who already have at least one PR internship under their belt, but if you can prove that you know your stuff, then you will have a decent shot at earning yourself this title.

Entry-level public relations officer

When searching for this job type on job boards and online job listing platforms, the role tends to be listed as Public Relations Officer, Public Relations Assistant, Publicist, or Marketing assistant. 

While you can still expect to make a respectable salary when working as a PR officer, you also shouldn’t expect to be at the top of the food chain from the get-go. 

As an entry-level employee, it’s likely that many of the smaller and more menial tasks will fall to you. 

You might be doing something different from day to day, either researching a potential client or updating a computer filing system with new information. 

It’s possible that you’ll be allowed to sit in on meetings with clients, but it will be a while before you get to handle a campaign of your own. 

Essential skills: Dedication, professionalism, consistency, basic responsibility. 

Public relations manager 

A public relations manager really isn’t all that different from managers in other businesses. While you won’t be leading an entire company, you will be in charge of a team of publicists. 

It’s rare that anyone gets hired as a PR manager without first having a proven track record of effective leadership and campaign success. 

While each team member is certainly important to achieving goals for clients, a failed campaign will often fall on the shoulders of the manager who was in charge of that campaign. 

As a PR manager, you need to be able to lead and take the blame when appropriate. 

If you’re new to PR, then don’t expect to earn this title until you’ve been working in PR for roughly five years.

Public relations manager

You also won’t be able to earn the title if you spend all your time keeping your head down. To gain any promotion in the highly competitive field of PR, you need to stand out and make it clear that you have what it takes to move up the proverbial corporate ladder. 

Essential skills: Leadership skills, rapid decisionmaking, delegation. 

Public relations executive 

This is another role that even PR outsiders probably have a fairly accurate impression of. Most of us already have a good idea of what executives do and what they’re responsible for. 

public relations executive specifically, as you might guess, is in charge of an entire PR agency, with their focus changing based on their title. 

A CFO needs to make sure that the company’s profit margins are staying nice and wide. A COO works closely with the CEO to make changes or maintain the current level of success. 

A CEO, of course, makes the most important decisions for the company.

This might include whether to expand by creating a new branch in another city. 

It also might include making significant changes to the current leadership structure of the company. 

The majority of PR professionals never rise to the executive level. Not everyone is suited to the substantial demands that an executive role places on the executives themselves. 

But for those who are experts in public relations and who are natural-born leaders who know how to do what’s best for everyone, there’s nothing quite like joining the C-suite. 

Essential skills: Ultra-fast decisionmaking, high-level abstraction, cost-benefit analysis. 

Public relations specialist

Public relations specialist

The role of ‘public relations specialist’ is quite different from the other PR job types we’ve mentioned so far. 

Yes, specialists still work in PR and they use the same tools as other PR professionals, but notably, they very often operate outside of well-established PR firms.  

Think of a PR specialist as the freelance version of a PR officer and PR manager combined. 

This is often a prestigious position, meaning that a PR specialist probably won’t strike out on their own until they’ve already created a positive reputation for themselves. 

PR specialists commonly work with public figures who need near-constant attention in terms of their public image. 

A PR specialist still might have a team to help them work on campaigns and gather information, but they will always remain the face of these services. 

Big-name clients want to know that they’re in good hands, and so specialists will spend a lot of face-to-face time with their clients and explain any major decisions they’ve made on the behalf of that client’s current campaign. 

PR specialists can also be PR consultants, only working with clients for a brief time before moving on to the next project. Above all else, PR specialists can make impressive salaries. 

Essential skills: Independence, PR expertise, many years of experience.