Careers in Public Relations and Media with a B.S. in Professional Communication Studies
15 July, 2020
Public relations careers are all about sculpting the customer facing image of an organization, and the individuals that form PR teams are especially necessary in a world of constant connection and information. While PR careers are aimed toward an overall goal, the roles that help to make a brand’s or celebrity’s image possible are incredibly varied—possible responsibilities in public relations range from copywriting to brand evangelism to client service to fashion consulting.
Entry-level PR jobs for many individuals holding a B.S. in Professional Communication Studies may include working as an editorial or public relations assistant, junior copywriter or a marketing coordinator. These roles are just the beginning, and advancing in a public relations career can lead to managing PR teams or working with high-profile brands.
Regardless of the path you choose, the public relations field focuses on communication, crafting an image and reputation for a person or brand, and fostering a connection to the public. Earning your bachelor’s in professional communications can help you get a jumpstart in PR by developing your skills in analyzing and understanding markets, planning media campaigns and developing your ability to communicate strong messages to the public.
What kind of jobs are in public relations?
A key part of achieving a PR team’s goal, whether it is for a multimillion dollar company or for an up and coming celebrity, is to build trust with its clients. This is an essential part of elevating a client’s voice and helping them tell their story. A publicist may do this for either a company or an individual, while an editor would be responsible for guiding the voice of a publication.
In a similar vein, social media specialists are employed to manage, promote and craft a social media presence that represents not only the products that a company produces, but the values of the company as a whole.
Public Relations Job Descriptions and Salaries
Publicists work directly with their clients to craft a consistent narrative in the media. This includes generating publicity campaigns, performing research related to the best brands associated with their client’s voice, and executing brand strategies.
Publicists need to know how to understand their target audience, how and when to pitch a client, and how to recover from missteps in the public eye. Crisis management is a necessary skill, especially for professionals representing celebrities, as they may have to respond to negative situations with speed and grace while balancing the emotional and professional needs of their clients.
The median annual public relations specialist salary in 2017 was roughly $59k, and the demand for PR specialists is expected to continue growing through 2026.
Press releases, blog posts, social media, and ad campaigns all have to go through an editor before they are approved for public consumption. Where a publicist will design a campaign strategy, or select a market to focus on, an editor will help ensure that those carefully laid plans are executed through PR content.
Editors are responsible for fact checking, giving feedback to writers or assistants who are crafting written copy, and ensuring a uniform voice across all media platforms. They often work for companies or publications rather than individuals, but artists with media platforms also employ editors to help them create a cohesive representation of their brand.
Many editors start their careers as assistants or writers, especially if their focus is in published work, such as newspapers or magazines. There are many kinds of editors that contribute to the overall voice and execution of projects they oversee, and these professionals earn a median annual salary of roughly $58k.
Social Media Specialist
Online communities are not only an important part of a company’s marketing plan, but also an under-utilized resource. Social media specialists help to bridge this gap by creating authentic interaction with a brand’s customer base through blogs as well as larger social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
They optimize engagement for those interactions, turning simple likes and shares into sales and relationships. In addition to managing the direct contact with a specific market, this path for public relations professionals involves strategy, tactical execution, and an understanding of how media and analytics influence interaction on the web.
Social media specialists make an average annual salary of roughly $41.5k, with skills such as Photoshop, customer service, and copywriting linked to higher earning potential.
Entry-Level PR Jobs
Early job opportunities for public relations careers can range from client service representative, to public relations assistant to marketing coordinator. These positions can lead to work as publicists, editors, and many more jobs that fill the roles of a well-oiled public relations team.
One of the most important traits for a successful PR professional is adaptability. Lindsey Lohan’s career, for example, recently made a considerable pivot that most wouldn’t have seen coming.
In 2018, Lindsay Lohan became the spokesperson for Lawyer.com, a surprising development to many given the star’s checkered history with law enforcement. This was one of the more recent actions in a series of steps she had taken after partnering with a PR company to change the way the media focused on her. The company shifted her image from that of a fallen actress to a story of recovery, giving space for new connection with fans, and pairing her with opportunities to reach new audiences.
This type of management and crafting of image, narrative and interaction is work that expands beyond former child stars and to businesses across the board. In addition to managing and developing unique stories for new companies, public relations professionals help to rebrand existing products and bring new life to struggling businesses.
As the world’s markets become more connected, and our information moves faster, the speed at which gossip, poorly timed garment malfunctions, and marketing missteps become public knowledge will likely make PR an even more critical part of maintaining a consistent, favorable public image, for companies and individuals alike.
How a Bachelor’s in Professional Communications Elevates Your Career
With perception and word of mouth functioning as both a means of growth and a potential risk, public relations professionals need to be ready to craft content, respond to emergencies and anticipate the response of the public to their client.
Programs such as Pace University’s online Bachelor of Science in Professional Communication Studies foster a deeper understanding of how public relations and communications professionals can create a dynamic image.
Students obtaining this degree along their public relations career path take courses in interpersonal communication among cultures, mass media, and writing, as well as public speaking, building a comprehensive skillset to tell the story of a client or business across multiple media channels and publications.