Public Relations Jobs: 2022 Guide To A Career in PR

Are you considering a career in public relations?

Our comprehensive guide to public relations jobs will provide a good overview of the options that are open to you. 

From the softer side of PR to hardcore crisis and reputation management there are countless roles on offer – both with PR agencies and in-house departments.

What’s certain is that in 2022 the importance of public relations, in almost all businesses, has never been greater.

And that means there are more opportunities for a career in PR than ever before.

But it also means that there has been a blurring of the boundaries between the disciplines of PR, marketing, SEO and even legal teams.

So whether you want to be a PR specialist or a generalist, this guide will give you a good overview of what’s on offer, the skills you need – and what you can expect to earn.

Let’s get into it.

What Is Public Relations?

Public relations jobs

Firstly let’s define what we mean by public relations in 2022.

Not too long ago PR was heavily focused on media relations.

This means working with businesses to secure editorial coverage in media outlets – print (newspapers and magazines), broadcast (TV and radio) and online.

But with the rise of digital everything has changed.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines PR as:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Bluntly, that means PR covers anything that affects the reputation of a business and how it is perceived by its customers and stakeholders. 

I like to think of public relations as fundamentally being about three principals: connecting, storytelling and influencing. Here are some great public relations examples.

Everything you will do in your PR career will be driven by one of these core themes.

In terms of day to day activities that means you will broadly be working in media relations, social media, thought leadership, SEO, crisis communication, event PR, community engagement and reputation management.

Not sure what is thought leadership? Read this quick guide to get the low down.

Let’s unpack these and look at what they mean in terms of public relations jobs.

Public Relations Jobs By Specialism

Media Relations

Public relations jobs in media relations

This is really the foundation of the modern discipline of PR.

It is the relationship that companies and organisations develop with journalists and their media outlets.

PRs source and develop stories that would be of interest to their client and the reporter’s audience – a mutually beneficial arrangement.

A good PR will cut down the amount of time the journalist needs to spend developing the story and so increase the chances of success.

PRs work on either news stories focusing on a current news angle or more in-depth features that look at trends and issues. They are always after an attention grabbing headline for their client.

Media relations activities will still often form the heart of many public relations campaigns.

What skills do you need?

The best media relations experts need to know what makes a great story for each target publication. They need to know what is newsworthy, have attention to detail and know how to write a press release

These PRs need to be able to build relationships with journalists and have a decent media list. They must also know how to write a media pitch.

It’s no surprise that some of the most successful media relations practitioners have previously worked as journalists.

Social Media

Social media public relations jobs

This is rarely a standalone element of a public relations campaign and is rather woven throughout all elements of your PR plan.

That said there are pure social media specialists out there working in agencies.

Even if this isn’t your preferred discipline, you need to be proficient on all the main platforms; Twitter, Facebook, Snap, Instagram and TikTok.

The purpose of social media PR is to amplify brand messaging across digital platforms whilst reaching your target audience.

The aim is to engage the audience, recruit brand ambassadors, who organically talk about your brand or product, and get free PR.

Brands with great social media tend to have built an audience through consistent and relevant content, often using hashtags, video, competitions and thought leadership to engage followers.

What skills do you need?

You need imagination and creativity to succeed in this role – producing bland content won’t cut it in a world of noise.

Social media PR is all about creating content that engages and intrigues the target audience. 

PRs need to be constantly scanning the news environment to spot quick wins and to identify influencers who are relevant for their brand.

You also need to have the ability to speak the language of your audience while keeping the tone professional. 

Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership public relations jobs

A proven way to build trust in your brand is to demonstrate the expertise you possess – this is thought leadership.

It often takes the form of comment pieces, blogs, vlogs, interviews and speeches.

As the PR you are unlikely to be the person whose name sits above these pieces of content but you will be the one creating them. 

So, for example, if a new piece of legislation comes out that affects your industry, and your customers, you should offer comment and insight to the media.

What skills do you need?

A forensic mind.

You need the ability to be able to distil often complex industry-specific issues into easy to understand content.

And you need to pay close attention to relevant changes in the industry you’re working in.

Make sure you build relationships with key journalists in your field who may turn to your client if they are reporting on a relevant story.

One of the best ways to spot thought leadership opportunities is through services such as Help A Reporter Out (HARO) or Response Source.


public relations jobs in SEO

Don’t be surprised that I have included Search Engine Optimisation.

You may not have to be master of the more technical side of SEO but if you’re in the business of producing content you MUST have a good idea of the core principles of SEO.

If you don’t your great content will fail to reach its intended audience.

SEO comes under the umbrella of PR because your online profile directly impacts the reputation of your business, what your customers think and feel about you.

Experts such as Jonny Nastor at Hack The Entrepreneur have some great free SEO guides that can help PR pros make sense of the online world.

What skills do you need?

The desire to always be learning, because SEO is constantly evolving. Have good attention to detail – small changes to your content can make a big difference.

And patience! It takes a while to see the results of even the greatest and most SEO-ninja’d content.

Crisis Communications 

Crisis public relations jobs

This is the heavy-duty end of PR, and where you’ll find the more senior positions.

Why? Because getting this right can save businesses – getting it wrong can cost millions.

If a business faces a serious reputational issue, they need a crisis communications expert to respond quickly to protect them against further damage.

A crisis comms expert will formulate and lead the strategic response to a major issue. They will deal with the media and work to repair the businesses’ reputation as quickly as possible.

Arguably any business is at risk of a crisis, but organisations working in sensitive areas like healthcare, are the most likely to invest in crisis comms.

Providing immediate responses to media enquiries, influencing a rapidly escalating social media narrative, media training and liaising with affected stakeholders are all part of this fast-paced PR discipline.  

What skills do you need?

Discretion and the ability to perform well under pressure. Good crisis communications professionals keep a calm head when an issue strikes. They maintain the ability to think strategically and act quickly.

Event PR

Public relations jobs for events

This is the practice of designing an event that helps the media connect with a brand through an experience. Think pop-up shop, or tasting event if you’re a food brand.

The best event PR is memorable for all the right reasons, enabling those attending to engage with the brand in a positive way.

The objective is to get people talking about your business because they’ve been impressed by what they’ve seen, heard and experienced. 

A great event should turn those who attend into fans who will spread the good word about your brand.

What skills do you need?

Event experts are highly-organised, creative trouble-shooters – unflappable multi-taskers. They also, know how to write a press release for an event.

Community Engagement

Community PR

Community engagement is a PR tool used by organisations who are making a significant impact on their local area with their business activities.

This is a particularly important PR strategy for corporations involved in property development or launching businesses that will change the face of the area.

The strategy is to reach out to and positively influence local people. The goal is to build a good reputation and keep stakeholders informed and involved in the work you are doing that may affect them.

What skills do you need?

A thick skin helps!

You must be able to facilitate face-to-face meetings, community conversations and run a strong social media campaign to support the work.

Be empathetic and have the ability to think from the community’s perspective so that all communications are created from their point of view – not yours.

Reputation Management

Reputation management jobs

This is really the mother of all PR disciplines – ultimately it’s what public relations is ALL about.

Our job as PR professionals is to shape and maintain a positive reputation for the businesses we represent.

Why? Because a positive reputation brings trust – and this is the foundation of all business success.

Reputation management is an amalgam of all of the disciplines outlined above. The goal is to influence the way in which your organisation is perceived, both by people outside of it (customers, investors) and those within.

Cultivating and maintaining a good reputation is vital for all businesses. It requires diligence in the digital space, traditional media and with local stakeholders.

What skills do you need?

Because of its holistic nature, this is more often than not a leadership/board-level role and requires many years of PR experience.

This individual has a 360 view of the organisation and all of its reputational pressure points. They have gravitas and the respect of the board.  They can influence the direction of the company, even at a core operational level.

Public Relations Jobs By Title 

PR jobs and careers

Leading-edge PR agencies are now mixing up the traditional PR hierarchy which runs from Account Executive up to Account Director.

This system can tend to mean that everyone ends up being a PR generalist – no matter what level of seniority they operate at.

However, that said, the traditional PR hierarchy still exists in many agencies and in-house teams. The following is a good guide to what those positions are and what you would be expected to do in your role: 

Account Director

This is the top rung in many PR agencies. You will have oversight for the strategic direction of all of the major clients who are with your agency. You will also likely head up the crisis communications end of major accounts for issues of significant importance. 

Account Manager

In this role, you are responsible for the day to day running of somewhere between four to eight accounts (depending on their size) for your PR agency.

You will be signing off press releases, content strategies – and also creating these documents. The client will see you as their main daily point of contact for all PR enquiries.

Senior Account Executive

By now you will have a couple of years experience under your belt and will have proven yourself as a competent and trustworthy PR professional.

You will be drafting PR materials and running social media accounts for clients. You will also be involved in the more client-facing elements of running the account.

Account Executive

After an internship, this is the first step in your PR career.

You can expect a wide variety of tasks – form inputting on press materials and pitching directly to journalists and influencers to helping pull together PR output reports and organising events. 

At this stage in your career, a good attitude is FAR more important than skill. You can learn skills but the right attitude is something that’s harder to teach.

Show you really care and make other people’s lives easier by doing a good job – then you’ll go far.

Public Relations Jobs – Salaries

Public relations salaries

So what can you expect to earn working in public relations?

The PRCA’s detailed annual PR and Communications Census provides a huge amount of information on the current state of the PR industry in the UK – and this is a good benchmark for the rest of the world.

As of 2019, this is what you can look to earn as a public relations professional – whatever stage you are at in your career. (n.b these are average rates)

  • Associate Director – £59,072 ($77,237)
  • Account Directors – £45,942 ($60,069)
  • Managers – £32,389 ($42,348)
  • Account Executive – £22,374 ($29,254)

Which Public Relations Job Is Right For You?

So there you have it – a complete overview of public relations jobs – by specialism and by hierarchy.

Whether you’re just starting out in marketing communications or want to clinch that all-important director role, public relations is a wonderful career.

Having worked in both the media and PR for the last 20 years I can guarantee you’ll have a truly fulfilling time and you’ll meet some wonderful people.

Like anything in life – the more you put into it the more you get out!

And if you are just starting out in your career and you’d like a little more guidance then grab our PR Starter Kit.

Our must-have kit has every template, script, strategy and guide you’ll ever need to do PR – all in one place.

Good luck!

About Alistair Clay

Alistair is a former national journalist with 20 years’ experience working in the media and PR. He is the founder of UK healthcare agency Arc Seven Communications and a registered member of the PRCA.