Inside PR Professional Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Reading Helpful To Writing For A Work Skill...
Most people thought I would become a teacher with an English degree but I knew I didn't want to go in to education. Since I was good at reading, I became good at writing and went into Public Relations where I did a lot of writing and editing for hospitals. Even though Spell check has been invented, you would be surprised at the need for workers who can spell and have good grammar!" (Editor; 2014)

Career: 25 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied English at University Of South Florida in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 1985

"Much Larger Salaries Than I Expected...
There are infinite applications for my combination of skills. I expected to be on the job hunt for a while like most of my friends were but I was actually given several very competitive offers within the first month of job searching." (Public Relations Officer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Communications, Business at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Behind-The-Scenes Work...
Public Relations professionals spend a lot of time talking to the media and celebrities (if in the celebrity PR industry), but much of the career is behind-the-scenes. From social media tracking to surveying to press release writing, there is always something to be done that does not involve direct contact with the outside world." (Public Relations Manager; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Communication at University Of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"Strategy Involves Contributions From Many...
I was surprised at how much work goes into coming up with a strategy for an advertiser or brand requires so many people and teamwork. Every day I have meetings with people with many different expertise." (Jr. Strategist; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Communication Studies And Peace, War, And Defense at University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill in North Carolina; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"I was surprised to find that many people are unable to do basic writing skills which I learned in low-level college classes. Many people I work with do not even know what a press release is, much less how to write one. These things come easily to me." (Media Assistant; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Communication Studies at Grove City College in Pennsylvania in 2011

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Communications Director: "The best part of my job is that it is never the same from day to day. Since I do all the communications myself, sometimes I need to learn to do new things (like working with the media, or creating a new website) that challenge me and provide real mental stimulation. That's great, because it means I am growing in my professional skills as I work. The worst part is the salary. When you work in the non-profit world, you just have to understand that you will never (probably) become wealthy. Churches in particular don't pay very well--they don't have the money to do so." (2011)

Communications Director: "There are many things I love about this job! I've learned a great deal, since my work covers so many areas of communications/marketing. It's also very satisfying working for an organization that exists to make the world a better place. As a director, I am able to craft our marketing "message" and see it come to life through the projects I work on, from the simple (like our bulletin) to the complex (our website). I also love the more easy-going atmosphere that you get here and at many non-profit organizations. We're just slightly less cut-throat and aggressive than in the business world. The thing I like the least is that this job, like almost every job I've ever seen in the non-profit world, is that the pay isn't great. There always seems to be a trade off like that: do something that matters, and take a lesser pay; dive into the for-profit world, and your pay rises, but so do the demands on you." (2011)

PR Executive: "The best part of the job is that I get to know a lot of people in the business and show industry. I have access to the best places in the city and it is actually a pretty good paying job for doing what I like. The worst part of the job is that it consumes most of my time. I have to be alert to the smallest details before, during, and after the events. I need to worry and anticipate all of the problems that could occur during any show." (2011)

Small Business Consultant: "While I love dealing with customers, the truth is that some can be a pain. It's sometimes difficult to deal with people who have no desire in dealing with you in a respectable manner. It's often hard to remind myself that it's sometimes them and not me. I never want an displeased customer, but if your business is always pushing themselves to grow, some people will end up being unhappy. It's important, therefore, to remember why you're in the business in the first place and do your best to make every single customer happy." (2011)

Communications Director: "What I like most is helping people come up with ways to explain what they do or what they mean. Many people are unable to express themselves through spoken or written communication and are frustrated when what they mean to say isn't what somebody understands from them. So finding ways to "boil things down" or make them more easily understandable to folks who are not experts in the same field is a fun challenge. The worst part of my job is probably the worst part of most people's jobs: when they aren't' trusted to do what they're good at doing. When you give your "expert" opinion and someone in charge replies "I don't care about that, I want it done this way."" (2010)

Director Of Communications: "The best thing about working in the non-profit sector is feeling like you are helping people who might not have gotten help otherwise, or supporting the people who are out there in the trenches trying to provide for the needy. The worst thing about my work is that the non-profit world is sometimes very small and it can be hard to find a job in or make a lot of money in. Some jobs pay very well but most don't. Sometimes, though, the work you are doing is more important than the money you can make." (2010)

Marketing And PR Coordinator: "I enjoy getting the chance to interact with our students and share their successes with our audience. I am very interested in how new technology can be used to create lines of communication that never existed before, such as social media. I do not enjoy the bureaucracy that comes with working at a major university. The many layers of "red tape" that must be navigated to do even the simplest tasks are a big source of frustration. I also don't appreciate the way I'm discriminated against for not having a Ph.D." (2010)

Director Of Customer Relations: "The best part of my job is interacting with many different people, including those at our customer assistance center in India. The different cultures bring many interesting views and decisions to my job. The worst part is having to work 50 - 60 hours during our busy season. Because our product is designed for use by tax accountants, our busy season falls in line with the tax deadlines, tax season." (2010)

Communications Manager: "The best parts of my job are the relationships I build, whether across teams or with the media. I also enjoy writing press releases. The worst parts of my job are the reports that need to be generated, the metrics that have to be met, the budgets that have to be built and, of course, politics that come into play. Sometimes it can be very difficult to keep all parties happy and make them understand that compromise approach will be needed." (2010)

Communications VP: "The best part of the job is its diversity. Every day is different and I work on many different types of projects at the same time, so it is rarely boring. I also have the ability to understand and be involved in all areas of the business. Communications touches everyone, so I have to understand all parts of the company to be effective. My job is also creative with writing and graphic arts a part of it that adds fun. Because I work in a global company I interact with people all around the world and I get to travel to interesting places. I find this one of the best parts of my job. There are many deadlines for me, which can be a challenge. And as an internal "consultant" to all parts of the business, meeting the demands of many people and prioritizing can be tricky." (2010)

Career Background

PR Professional

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Experience Through Internships...
If you want to be a successful Public Relations professional, take as many internships in the sector as possible. Companies like prospective candidates who have experience in many different types of PR(celebrity, environmental, non-profit, corporate). Don't be afraid to work at a few different places before you find the type that you enjoy." (Public Relations Manager; 2014)

"Stay Up-To-Date With Technical Improvements For Your Job...
Continue to improve your computer skills for writing/editing tasks, as things have become much different since Microsoft came out with their Office Suite. A red pen and specific written marks are now part of a software package that you must learn to provide your skill these days." (Editor; 2014)

"Network Often...
Spend your summers doing internships, all of my super valuable connections came from people I met while working at an internship." (Public Relations Officer; 2013)

"Learn To Write...
1. Try for an internship at an organization similar to the one you think you want to work at. If you don't have an internship program at your college, you can still sometimes call an organization and find that they will be happy to offer you a internship, especially if it's unpaid. 2. For any field in communications, take as many liberal studies courses as you can. You need to learn to think, listen, and understand others critically. Plus, you want to be as well-rounded as possible. 3. WRITE as much as you can. Take courses that are writing-intensive. Pay attention to comments that your teachers make about your writing. If you can, consider an internship or job at a local newspaper so that you can get more experience. No matter what area of communications you end up in, the ability to write is of great importance." (Communications Director; 2011)

"Lower Pay In Non-Profits...
1. Be open to learning new things that are not specifically in the area you trained for. In small organizations and non-profits, the broader your experience, the better suited you'll be for the job. 2. A good way to break into the non-profit world is to volunteer for an organization that you think you might want to work for. It gets your foot in the door and lets them see how talented you are, and gives you a taste of what that organization is like. 3. Be aware of the lower pay scale that tends to hold true in non-profits. There are other benefits that may make up for that, but know that you'll never get rich working for a non-profit." (Communications Director; 2011)

My advice is to be social, go to every social or business event that you can, and visit night clubs, bars, and concerts. It's about knowing the right people. Try to talk with strangers; it will help to make you lose the fear of speaking. You also need to take courses in general culture, protocol, and event planning. Careers related to my job are communication, Advertising, Marketing and some universities already have Public Relations. So go for it!" (PR Executive; 2011)

"Stay On Top Of Changing Media Channels...
If you're looking to make a career in social media there are a few things you must do: 1. Always be on the look out for new platforms. Don't just stay pat after you've mastered a few of the big ones. 2. Remember that platforms change. Facebook and Twitter won't be around forever. 3. Treat every person with respect and do your best to explain your intentions to them." (Small Business Consultant; 2011)

"Writing Skills You'll Need...
Learn how to write effectively. While all of the rules of grammar don't have to be followed in all situations, it's better to learn them so you'll recognize when they're needed. Practice writing and do a lot of reading, paying attention to how people communicate ideas. Learn lots of words. Lots. Seriously. Get in the habit of looking back over what you write and eliminate unnecessary words. Use a thesaurus to learn words that will help you explain things in multiple ways, with a bit of a different flavor. Learn to be concise. With words, less is more." (Communications Director; 2010)

"Be Willing To Start At The Bottom...
If you want to get into a particular non-profit because you like what they do, don't be afraid to take a low-tier job, like an administrative assistant position. Non-profits are great about promoting from within and you can usually move up fairly quickly. Also, don't listen to people who say non-profits don't have great benefits because they can't afford them like corporations can. That is not true. A lot of non-profits have better benefits than regular corporations do." (Director Of Communications; 2010)

"Figure Out Which Area Of PR You Want To Work In...
I recommend taking PR and marketing courses, as well as completing as many internships as possible while in undergraduate school. It is extremely important to "try out" different areas of public relations to find the right fit. There are so many things someone in public relations can do, that it can be difficult to find one's niche without a broad base of experience. I also recommend pursuing graduate education. You don't have to do this right after college, but it should remain a priority and shouldn't "drop off the radar" once you enter the job market. A master's degree can open a lot of doors and set you apart from the ever-growing crowd." (Marketing And PR Coordinator; 2010)

"Leverage Your Instructors...
Try to take as many courses as possible; continuous learning is key. Also, if you are working during college, try to find a job in the industry that will help you learn more about your future career and look great on a resume. School is hard but can also be fun. Take the necessary courses and find friends with the same interests who will you help you study for big exams is necessary or work on large school projects. Make sure you utilize your teachers as well. They are there to teach you and if you don't understand what they are teaching it could have bad consequences. Don't be afraid to ask questions." (Director Of Customer Relations; 2010)

"Preparing For PR Work...
Be prepared to deal with difficult personalities, egos and politics. Be sure that you enjoy dealing with people. If you are an introvert, this in not the job for you. Be sure you are a good writer. Take extra classes in writing and AP style if you are not a strong writer. Be prepared to do a lot of nitty-gritty work at the beginning of your career - the kind of background research the higher-ups don't want to do. Be prepared for bosses who don't "get it" because they have not been in the trenches doing the work in a long time." (Communications Manager; 2010)

"Write Clearly And Understand Business...
Strong writing skills are essential for communicators. You will be relied upon to be the clearest and most skilled writer in the organization and to hone these skills and be quick as well. A keen interest in business helps. The most successful communicators understand more than communication; they have an instinctive grasp of business and can tell the business's story. You also have to have strong technical skills. No matter how high in an organization you go, you still must have an aptitude for new communications technologies, video production, web usage, etc." (Communications VP; 2010)