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Public Relations Manager: Career Path and Salary

The position of public relations manager is a significant and highly regarded role in any organization, responsible for cultivating a positive relationship with the public. They oversee an institution’s reputation, helping set brand strategies, communicating with customers and stakeholders, representing their employers to the media, and responding to crises.

A smiling public relations manager stands in front of an office building

Anyone interested in learning how to become a public relations manager should begin by exploring an education that offers the proper knowledge and skills for the role, such as an online Master of Arts in Management and Leadership (MAML).

What Does a Public Relations Manager Do?

A good public relations manager should have a deep understanding of their client’s branding, identity, and target audience. Through their interactions with the media, customers, and the public, they clarify and amplify a company’s brand to express an image of trustworthiness and excellence. A public relations manager does this through press releases, interviews, and campaign promotions, often working alongside advertising and marketing departments to ensure consistency of message and optimal delivery.

Because their statements can have legal ramifications, public relations managers also work closely with specialists such as lawyers and other legal professionals. As their organization’s public face during crisis situations, they should be able to communicate clearly and advocate for their clients under stress.

Public relations managers may also oversee social media outreach, establish business connections, organize special events, and advise on communication between business leaders. Depending on the industry, different responsibilities and nuances can provide opportunities for unique interactions and personal growth.

How to Become a Public Relations Manager

Becoming a public relations manager requires suitable education, experience, skills, and knowledge, especially when striving to stand out from other candidates.

Education

The minimum education requirement to become a public relations manager is a bachelor’s degree, specifically in public relations, communication, or a relevant field. However, to advance to management positions, some employers require further education, such as a master’s in business administration or management and leadership. In a master’s of management and leadership program with a concentration in marketing, courses such as Project Management, Interpersonal Management Skills, Branding, and Integrated Marketing Communications can help students develop the core competencies that are key to a successful career in public relations.

Certification

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) offers certification that verifies an individual’s professionalism, knowledge of industry practices, and aptitude for guiding others in the field. Earning the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential requires preparing a panel presentation for a live audience, as well as completing a written examination.

Skills and Experience

According to the website The Balance Careers, among the skills of a successful public relations manager are the ability to write compelling messaging and cultivate strong media relations. In the modern landscape, there are a number of additional skills that can diversify individual competencies and improve performance in a public relations role. Writing website copy, public speaking, interview research, emotional intelligence, project management, and deductive and inductive reasoning are some of the skills that can help set aspiring managers apart from the competition.

Many of these skills can be developed while working in areas that precede a managerial role. Entry-level positions such as public relations specialist or fundraiser are two standard paths for gaining the skills and experience to climb the career ladder.

Public Relations Manager Salary and Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019 annual public relations manager salaries for the lowest 10% to the highest 10% of earners ranged between $64,790 and $208,000, with a median of $116,180. Salaries can vary by education, experience, and employer type. Below are 2019 median salaries paid by key industries and business sectors.

  • Professional and scientific services: $133,480
  • Corporate and enterprise management: $131,560
  • Religious, nonprofit, and professional organizations: $117,430
  • Educational services: $102,530

The job market for public relations managers is promising, with BLS data predicting growth of 9% between 2019 and 2029, much higher than for the average occupation. As new and larger businesses emerge, they will be looking for skilled individuals with the education and marketing instincts to cultivate the relationship between companies and their public audiences.

Launch Your Career as a Public Relations Manager

Though demanding, a career in public relations management can be both exciting and rewarding. Each day poses its own unique challenges and opportunities to thrive, calling on creativity, communication skills, and quick thinking.

If you’re interested in a career representing a business or organization to the public, consider an online Master of Arts in Management and Leadership from Maryville University. Explore the option to choose from eight different concentrations — including marketing, cybersecurity, project management, health administration, and beyond — plus the advantages of an online education that fits your busy life.

The program at Maryville University is designed to help you forge a path in the field of public relations. Explore our curriculum to learn whether becoming a public relations manager is right for you.

Recommended Reading

Advertising vs. Public Relations: Career Options for English Majors Public Affairs vs. Public Relations: Discussing the Differences

What Is PR? A Guide to Understanding Public Relations

Sources

The Balance Careers, “Important Skills for Public Relations Jobs”

Forbes, “Science Needs Public Relations”

Matter, “5 Reasons Why I Love PR”

Meltwater, “PR Career Paths: 12 Skills You Need”

Public Relations Society of America, Accreditation in Public Relations

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Relations and Fundraising Managers