PR Manager

    If you are wondering how to become a PR manager, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of marketing and public relations, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Public relations (PR) officers promote good relations between an organisation and its customers, investors and the wider public. Their work aims to build and maintain their organisation’s image and reputation.

    You can work as a PR officer in a company’s in-house public relations department, or as an account executive in a PR consultancy providing PR services for a number of clients.

    Typical responsibilities:

    * planning PR campaigns and strategy
    * monitoring public and media perception of the client or organisation
    * writing and editing leaflets, brochures, press releases, speeches, newsletters and websites
    * arranging events like press launches, news conferences, exhibitions, open days and sponsorship
    * developing good working relationships with the media
    * arranging for advertising or promotional films to be produced
    * public speaking at presentations, conferences or radio and TV interviews
    * representing the company or client at events.
    * Public relations is sometimes known as corporate communications, public affairs or media relations, so you may be known by various other job titles.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of public relations managers include:

    * excellent writing skills, with the ability to express a message clearly and persuasively
    * confident communication and presentation skills
    * creativity and initiative
    * good organisational, planning and time-management skills
    * the ability to work well as part of a team and with all kinds of client
    * flexibility and multi-tasking ability
    * the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
    * resilience, to cope with rejection and criticism of your ideas
    * accuracy and attention to detail
    * an interest in the media.

    How to become a PR manager
    There are no set entry qualifications for becoming a PR officer, but public relations is a very competitive industry to enter and many employers will prefer you to have a degree.

    You may have an advantage with a degree or postgraduate qualification in public relations. Other useful subjects include:
    advertising or marketing and communications
    business or management

    See the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) website for a list of approved degrees and postgraduate courses in PR.

    If you would like a career in PR but have not previously studied it, you may find it helpful to take the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Advanced Certificate in Public Relations before looking for work.

    You will improve your chances of employment by doing work experience (often unpaid) in PR departments and consultancies. You can also get relevant experience through activities like voluntary PR or fundraising work with charities, or involvement with student newspapers and societies.

    See the CIPR and Public Relations Consultants Association websites for advice on finding work experience, and for some advertised placements and graduate training schemes.

    You may be able to join a PR firm as an administrator, publicity assistant or information officer, and get promotion to PR officer. You could also go into a second career in PR if you have previous experience in journalism, advertising, marketing, fundraising or sales.

    Training and Development
    Your training will usually be on the job, possibly through a structured graduate training scheme (in one of the larger consultancies or employers).

    It can be an advantage to join the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and work towards their professional qualifications:
    CIPR Advanced Certificate in Public Relations – suitable for anyone with up to two years’ experience in a junior PR role
    CIPR Diploma in Public Relations – a more advanced course, for anyone with a PR or business-related postgraduate qualification plus at least a year’s PR experience, or a degree in any subject plus at least two years’ PR experience.
    See the CIPR website for more details about their qualifications, membership and further training.

    You could also choose to study for the Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) Diploma in Marketing Communications.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Starting salaries are usually from around £15,000 to £20,000 a year
    With experience this can rise to between £20,000 and £40,000
    Account directors and heads of corporate affairs can earn up to £80,000 to £100,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    You could work for a PR agency/consultancy, or in-house in all kinds of business including commercial, financial, retail, central and local government, or charities. PR is a growing industry but competition for jobs is strong.

    Jobs may be advertised in the local and national press, trade publications such as PR Week, Profile and Press Gazette, the CIPR website and specialist recruitment agencies. However, not all jobs are advertised, so you could also approach agencies directly, or find work through networking and making contacts in the industry.

    As an in-house PR officer, you could be promoted to PR manager, then head of communications. In PR consultancies, you could progress to senior account executive or account manager, and eventually to account director. It is common to move between employers to gain promotion or work with larger accounts. You could also choose to become freelance, or move into related areas like advertising, marketing or journalism.

    Useful resources:
    Public Relations Consultants Association
    Willow House
    Willow Place
    London SW1P 1JH
    Tel: 0207 233 6026

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