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PR industry
careers guide

Fancy a career in the PR industry? We have all the knowledge and tips to help you become a PR pro.




“Using different forms of media and communication to look after a company or organisation’s reputation in order to influence public opinion and behaviour”

It’s all about your reputation. People won’t want to be friends with you if you’re notoriously mean, but will be queuing round the block if you’re known for being there for those who are having a tough time. It’s the same with big companies. If they’re known for providing quality products with a caring and ethical ethos people are more likely to use them. That’s what PR officers do. They help companies to create a positive impression.

As Bill Gates once said “if I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR”, emphasising just how important PR is in today’s market. A good reputation can work wonders for a company and help them to gain exposure so they can expand further.

Unlike advertising, however, the media exposure gained through PR isn’t paid for. It relies upon third-party endorsement which gives a sense of credibility to recommendations and testimonials, and makes it more popular with potential consumers. Ever wondered why you sometimes end up reading several articles about a certain company one week? That’s all down to PR, who place a company’s products in the public eye and issue press releases to give greater coverage and inspire a buzz.

How does PR work?

By organising events, working with targeted communities, liaising with the press, creating online viral campaigns and securing sponsorship, PR officers help to make sure that the public’s opinion of an organisation is positive. An immense amount of research is involved to best understand the public’s wants and needs, and it is this information which is then used to implement new strategies to engage audiences and improve an organisation’s reputation.

Helping to represent politicians, celebrities, businesses and charity organisations, a career in PR is one of the broadest and most exciting modern professions. Ranging from writing up a press report to responding to a ‘crisis’ and working out the ‘party line’ to best represent your client, no two days are the same.

PR agencies are broadly split into two categories: in-house and consultancy. Whereas in-house departments work exclusively for one organisation, focussing on a long-term programme which will follow its future development, a consultancy provides an independent service for several clients, and is usually much shorter. For PR officers, in-house agencies require their employees to have an in-depth knowledge of the company and the market it operates in, compared to consultancies, which have to manage numerous accounts and learn about a variety of different organisations and their respective markets, but in much less detail.




PR examples

  • Royal Mail's gold postboxes campaign, 2012 (Euology)

  • The Guinness bottle drop, 1959 (Guinness Exports Ltd. Mr A. W. Fawcett)

  • The Taco Liberty Bell, 1996, (PainePR)

Jobs in PR

Jobs in PR are fiercely competitive, ranking as one of the top three most popular career choices for graduates in the UK. However, due to its focus on communication skills, a career in PR does not require a degree-level qualification (although this is often useful) and is also open to school-leavers who can enrol on apprenticeship programmes.

Below we’ve listed some of the key roles in PR and all the basic info you should know about them. Find out what happens, the skills you'll need and what you can expect as a starting salary. If you see a job title you like, pop it in your profile so we can match you with employers.

Public Relations Accounts Executive

Responsible for managing the information between organisations and the general public, accounts executives help to promote their clients to target audiences by generating positive news coverage.

Skills required:

  • Effective communicator
  • Thick-skinned
  • Knowledge of current affairs
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Works well under pressure

Roles:

  • Junior accounts executive
    £18k-£24k
  • Senior accounts executive
    £20k-£25k
  • Accounts manager
    £30k+


Public Relations Officer

Using the media to build and maintain a reputation for their clients, PR officers use third-parties to communicate their message to their clients.

Skills required:

  • Effective communicator
  • Thick-skinned
  • English
  • Works well under pressure
  • Networking
  • Knowledge of current affairs

Roles:

  • Junior PR officer
    £18k-£20k
  • Senior PR officer
    £22k-£28k
  • PR director
    £40k+


Research

Knowledge of a company and its market is essential in PR. That’s where the researchers come in, to gather information about a company and its target market to help create effective campaigns.

Skills required:

  • Internet navigation
  • Knowledge of current affairs
  • Concise writing
  • Effective communicator

Roles:

  • Junior research assistant
    £18k-£22k
  • Research manager
    £20k-£28


Emergency and Crisis Management

What do you do when a story comes out discrediting your company when you’ve made a huge loss? Crisis managers are on hand to help companies to present themselves in the best possible light, often adopting a different angle or stance that deflects the blame. For those in the public sector, emergency and crisis management will also help to coordinate response plans to protect the safety of the public and provide useful advice.

Skills required:

  • Effective communicator
  • Works well under pressure
  • Advanced knowledge of government regulations
  • Lateral thinker
  • Knowledge of current affairs
  • Thick-skinned

Roles:

  • Crisis manager
    £25k-£30k
  • Crisis manager director
    £30k-£40k



PR companies

  • Bell Pottinger Group
  • Brunswick
  • FD
  • Weber Shandwick
  • Citigate Dewe Rogerson
  • Hill & Knowlton
  • Edelman
  • Freud Communications
  • Finsbury
  • Ketchum
  • Lynne Franks PR
  • M&C Saatchi PR
  • Porter Novelli
  • Futurebrand
  • Lexis PR
  • Halo PR
  • TMW
  • Nelson Bostock Group
  • Marlin PR
  • Eulogy
  • Rainer Communications
  • Speed Communications
  • Brand and Brown
  • Chime Communications
  • Edelman UK
  • Headland
  • Lewis PR
  • Seventy Seven PR/li>
  • The Communication Group
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcom Gladwell
  • Crystallizing Public Opinion by Edward L. Bernays
  • Reputation Rules: Strategies for Building Your Company's Most Valuable Asset by Daniel Diermeier
  • Spin: How to Turn the Power of the Press to Your Advantage by Michael S. Sitrick
  • For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Chan
  • Public Relations by Ronn Torossian
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