What Is Public Relations? (With Examples of Careers)

Updated 3 April 2023

People who work in public relations help maintain a positive relationship between an organisation and external clients. They can help the organisation propagate a positive reputation through social media campaigns, press releases, strategic partnerships and public events. Learning what public relations is may help you find a career that is suitable for your passion and skills. In this article, we define what public relations is and provide some examples of careers in public relations, with their national average salaries and primary duties.

What is public relations?

Learning the answer to 'What is public relations?' can help you prepare for a role in this marketing industry. Public relations is the practice of spreading information about an organisation to the public or clients. This information helps maintain relationships and encourages people to perceive an organisation positively. For example, if an organisation wants to celebrate milestones in the business, the public relations team might arrange public events that include free drinks and merchandise samples for people to enjoy.

Events like this can generate awareness of the organisation and help the brand gain some public exposure. Public relations events can also help an organisation develop partner relationships with other businesses or investors. The public relations team may also spend more time building strategies that focus on changing public opinion. For example, if the company receives negative press about their new product, the public relations team might create social media campaigns that highlight the new product's benefits.

Related: How to Become a Public Relations Professional (Step Guide)

15 types of jobs in public relations

There are several types of jobs available in public relations that require different levels of experience and media knowledge. For example, if someone wants to post media campaigns online, they might find a job that specialises in social media marketing. Here are 15 types of jobs in public relations:

1. Social media specialist

National average salary: $75,076 per year

Primary duties: A social media specialist creates marketing strategies to engage existing customers and attract new customers to an organisation. They might interact with readers on the social media pages and gain feedback on their experience browsing the content. Social media specialists can also design persuasive content that spreads awareness of the brand and encourages people to buy products from the organisation's website.

Related: What Does a Social Media Marketer Do? (With Average Salary)

2. Public relations assistant

National average salary: $71,798 per year

Primary duties: Public relations assistants provide administrative support to the public relations department by answering phone calls and documenting media coverage. They typically participate in brainstorming sessions and share creative ideas with the marketing team. A public relations assistant may also help the organisation arrange communal events and other media campaigns that involve communications with the public.

3. Copywriter

National average salary: $67,075 per year

Primary duties: A copywriter typically writes press releases and blog posts in the public relations department. They can write concise copy for advertisements, company websites, brochures, sales letters and marketing materials that reach a wide range of audiences. Copywriters might also participate in the planning process of marketing campaigns to write content that attracts the right customers and encourages existing customers to buy products.

Related: 20 Popular Careers for Writers (With Salaries and Job Duties)

4. Public relations manager

National average salary: $97,513 per year

Primary duties: Public relations managers usually coordinate campaigns related to public relations, marketing and sales. They can discuss the organisation's products and services to audiences through online interviews and media press releases. A public relations manager can forge relationships with journalists, manage responses to crisis situations, oversee the development of media releases and write appropriate press materials.

Read more: What Is a PR Manager? (With Skills and Responsibilities)

5. Director of public relations

National average salary: $83,567 per year

Primary duties: A director of public relations can develop relationships with media organisations and popular influencers on social media. This helps them to maintain the company's positive reputation with media coverage sites and potential consumers. They can delegate tasks to employees in the public relations department. Public relations directors might also track campaign success through online reviews and customer interaction.

Related: Public Relations Responsibilities (Roles and Requirements)

6. Public affairs specialist

National average salary: $99,512 per year

Primary duties: Public affairs specialists communicate information to media representatives, intending to shape public opinion and build support for the organisation. They can create marketing materials for digital platforms, such as websites, news blogs and social media pages. A public affairs specialist might also train new team members on how to interact with the press and interview digital media professionals.

7. Publicist

National average salary: $83,534 per year

Primary duties: A publicist communicates the organisation's brand to potential consumers and media professionals. They can write press releases, media alerts, social media content, blog posts for the organisation and news articles. Someone in this role might pitch creative ideas to clients who want to invest in the organisation's products or services. Publicists can also arrange important interviews with stakeholders.

Related: What Does a Publicist Do? (Plus Common Skills)

8. Communications manager

National average salary: $123,016 per year

Primary duties: Communications managers typically create online and print advertisements, email marketing campaigns, website posts and written content for social media pages. They aim to ensure that the marketing materials effectively communicate the organisation's message. A communications manager can also work closely with management teams to identify press opportunities and develop content for distribution channels.

Related: What Is a Manager? Definition, Role and Responsibilities

9. Content strategist

National average salary: $86,086 per year

Primary duties: A content strategist usually establishes strategies that guide a company's objective and meet the marketing standards. They can create content for branded websites and engage customers with new product launches. Another duty is to release written content on mobile and social platforms that reach specific audiences. Content strategists might also analyse other strategies from competitors who want to advertise their products.

10. Brand ambassador

National average salary: $61,755 per year

Primary duties: Brand ambassadors typically work closely with the sales and marketing team to promote the organisation's products using marketing strategies. They support the organisation by uploading digital content that encourages customers to buy the products. A brand ambassador might also provide feedback to the organisation, accept sponsorship deals and generate brand awareness through word-of-mouth techniques.

11. Crisis manager

National average salary: $123,680 per year

Primary duties: A crisis manager responds to emergencies, business threats or major incidents related to the company's public image and branding. These can be fire evacuations, security breaches, computer system failures or product recalls. They may communicate with media professionals or journalists who want coverage of the emergency. Crisis managers might also create strategies that prevent these situations from happening.

Related: What Is Customer Success Management? (With Skills and Duties)

12. Public relations account executive

National average salary: $86,290 per year

Primary duties: Public relations account executives write and sell press releases to the media and run social media campaigns that advertise product launches. They may answer phone calls from journalists and discuss the latest product developments in the organisation. A public relations account executive might also monitor media coverage and communicate their findings with the public relations team or external stakeholders.

13. Technical writer

National average salary: $94,006 per year

Primary duties: A technical writer can gather and develop technical information that helps them create product descriptions for clients. They can work in technology-based organisations that require technical writers to describe complex products and machinery. Technical writers might also hold discussions with product development teams to understand more about the product's marketing and how they can write concise descriptions.

14. Social media strategist

National average salary: $95,730 per year

Primary duties: Social media strategists usually identify social media platforms that have the most engagement with target audiences. They can build targeted advertisements and campaigns for customers interested in the organisation's products. A social media strategist might also track online content on the organisation's social media pages to determine if the content is reaching the right audiences.

15. Event manager

National average salary: $81,036 per year

Primary duties: An event manager organises business and social events for organisations to announce product launches. They can manage the budgets of each event and plan how much they're going to spend on venues, refreshments and kitchen staff. Event managers might also liaise with clients about events, negotiate venue hire prices, organise guest speakers and coordinate hospitality and travel arrangements.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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