Why should you consider a career in public relations?
No two days are the same, the emergence of social media, the constant evolution of the industry and the ability to apply PR at a company you’re passionate about are just some of the reasons why there’s no better time than now to be in PR.
But let’s dig in deeper, shall we?
For Starters, It’s Fun!
The opportunities that PR affords you are endless. The people, events, products and services that you’re promoting often lead you to interact with them in ways that the general public does not.
I did PR for Orlando Science Center and had a hell of a time. I was able to hang out with celebrities like actors from Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation, Major League Baseball, and even astronauts.
And then there’s the feeling of going on live TV or seeing my name quoted in the paper. Those are cool perks that come with the job.
I’ve also made incredible connections and friends. Everyone from TV and newspaper reporters to PR folks that work for some big companies like Universal Orlando Resort.
PR Provides a Rush
When you’re trying to secure press and send your pitches, news releases and media alerts, it’s like crickets sometimes. But just before you need that coverage, reporters and producers are pinging you like crazy and it’s hard to keep up.
In those moments you’ve made yourself look good for your bosses and organization, and everyone’s happy. There’s no better feeling on this job.
So if you like a job that is challenging but incredibly rewarding and thus fun, I strongly recommend public relations.
But you need better reason than fun.
It Pays Well
Every day you have those things that come in the mail called bills as well as food to put on the table, so money is important right?
That’s good because according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a PR specialist is $55,680 or $26.77/hour. I can dig that!
A typical entry level position is $31,190 and the top 10 percent earn $105,720. Not too shabby.
Speaking of which, what does the industry job growth look like?
Again, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the industry to grow 6 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is average for all professions.
By contrast, reporters and broadcasters have much more to worry about. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median pay is $37,200 — almost $20,000 less — and projects employment to decrease 9 percent between 2014 and 2024. Ouch!
Now get this: the bureau lists another category: public relations and fundraising managers. Here you’d have five years or more work experience in a related occupation which could very well be in line with your background. Median pay in 2014 was $101,510 or $48.80 per hour. That’s average!
Job growth through 2024 works out to 7 percent, so slightly higher than public relations specialists which is something I want to point out because you could just as well go this direction and make a lot more money.
The number of news jobs in 2014 was 54,400 while PR jobs came in at 240,700. That means for every reporter there are about six PR specialists. And keep in mind the number of reporting jobs are a 9 percent decline while PR jobs are on a 6 percent increase. ‘Nuff said.
Now don’t get me wrong: I love journalism. That was one of my majors and if you asked me in college, I would have said I’d be a reporter my entire life.
But the industry isn’t what it used to be. And that’s what I want to stress: that word “industry.”
Journalists Can Still Be Journalists
The truth is a function of a PR pro’s job is journalism. It’s just specific to the organization and/or industry that that PR specialist works in. In one of the many forms of public relations known as “brand journalism,” you’re still reporting news stories. That is you’re interviewing sources and identifying stories and keeping up with deadlines.
So I say do what I did and take the aspects of news reporting that you love and apply it in a different setting. You’ll get paid more, have more job security, potentially have more fun and combine your job with a passion of yours.
Combine Your Job With Your Passion
If you love sports, act as the communications director for a sports team. Now you’re doing PR, acting as news reporter when producing content for the team’s website, getting paid more and oh yeah, hanging out with players, and seeing sports contests for free. It’s incredible.
Conversely, if you love the showbiz industry, you can be a publicist for an actor or musician.
Every company and every industry has a need for public relations. Every single one. More so than they need a marketing person. Because PR is a free function, essentially.
You have to pay for advertising and media buys. But PR operates on the idea of generating media coverage for free.
Not every company needs an engineer. Or a teacher. Or a doctor. But EVERY company needs PR/communications. Every single one of them.
So find the organization or industry that excites you and apply PR there. It’s double bang for your buck.
Get On The Social Media Train Before It’s Too Late
Let’s talk about social media for a second. Don’t be fooled: the communications/PR department is in charge of social media.
There are elements of marketing tied in – no doubt about it. But most of the time, a PR professional has the most control of an organization’s social media presence. And the reason is because it’s all about the image of the company and the relationships fostered between it and its publics. There’s just no other way to slice it.
I managed social media for Orlando Science Center and it was important that that I did because as the PR manager, I had a pulse on everything happening there and the messages that we were putting out there. I also had the proper experience to communicate with our followers in the appropriate manner.
The point I really want to make is social media is such a huge function of our lives today and it’s only going to increase. There is absolutely no better time than now to be part of this trend and make your impact on it.
For many companies, they have a designated social media manager or even a team. If that function of PR is most appealing to you, by all means, do it.
You can perform PR as a C-level executive.
Take for instance two of the folks I’ve interviewed on the podcast thus far: Leonardo Santiago of Orlando City Soccer Club, the Major League Soccer franchise, and Jeff Stanford of Orlando Science Center.
Both of these guys are the vice president of communications for their respective organizations. That’s more responsibility, more leadership and more pay, and you can take that experience to any other company or corporation. C-level execs make the big bucks as in six figures.
You can get there via PR. Let’s face it. In journalism, it’s not the same. I don’t mean to knock it but if you want the money, honey, it’s here in PR.
PR Provides Variety
Not the Hollywood trade magazine, but the myriad tasks public relations presents to us is awesome. I mean, this industry is constantly changing and evolving.
Take social media for instance. Ten years ago, brands weren’t there. Facebook was fresh, MySpace and Friendster were still a thing. Now you’ve got more social networks than fingers.
Traditional media is changing. Newspapers are dealing with video now so it’s not just TV news that you’re doing stand-ups for.
And podcasts are huuuuuuge (this one notwithstanding — I kid). Every news organization has one now. And the companies you’re doing PR for do as well. Heck, you could be the one recording the podcasts!
And let’s not forget working with bloggers. I run a blog on the side called “Orlando Mall Guide” where I cover the Orlando mall scene which includes about a dozen high quality malls. So when The Mall at Millenia hosts an event, I’m there to cover it, standing shoulder-to-shoulder among TV news stations and newspaper reporters.
The mall’s PR people love what I bring to the table which is coverage targeted directly to uber-shoppers. And I offer opportunities that traditional media can’t and won’t, opportunities that help push the mall’s PR initiatives in fun and engaging ways.
Besides the new and emerging media PR practitioners are able to work with on a day-to-day basis, their daily tasks vary as well. One minute you’re organizing and administering a press conference, and the next you’re doing a live TV interview.
PR Is For Creatives
There are no limits in public relations. If you’re creative and you have imagination, you can craft clever PR campaigns that create buzz around your organization.
Let’s talk about the example Kelly-Anne Suarez of the Crayola Experience gave us in episode six. She knew that on Black Friday the news stations would cover retail. The Crayola Experience features the Crayola Store, so there was that.
She decided to host a shopping spree for the charity organization Toys for Tots that involved kids running through the store, picking out items that a U.S. Marine would have to hold, an appearance by the mayor — essentially it was a fantastic photo- and media-op.
This was an event that wasn’t in her PR strategy for the year. But Kelly-Anne is smart and knew that it was an opportunity to make something happen and she did that using her imagination.
That process is incredibly rewarding.
Another example: at the Science Center we celebrated Pi Day on March 14. Not pie you eat but, you know, pi as in the circumference of a circle (3.14 — March 14, get it?).
The idea we came up with was to hand deliver edible pies with my press release attached to all the news organizations in town as a way to draw attention to this event we were hosting. If they didn’t cover it, no big deal because they got to eat the pie, share it with their office-mates and be that person who provided free pie. So it was also a relationship builder.
Do you see what I mean in that this is a creative industry with no bounds?
PR Is An Industry For Writers
I have to include this point here which is that if you love to write, PR is an excellent job to apply that passion.
You get to write formally and you also get to write creatively. That can include content for a website, social media or even a magazine. Creative writing is plentiful in public relations.
The biggest thing is that when you write in public relations, you write to make an impact. That can include convincing a reporter that you have a great story to driving more clicks on a social media post.
Writing in PR is great in that it’s measurable and you can quantify the impact that your writing has.
It’s Never Boring
The last reason I’ll list today is PR is never boring. Every day is different, truly.
If you’re a journalist, you could say the same thing because you’re writing a different story every day. Yeah, that’s true.
But in PR, one day you’re doing a media blitz and jumping from one TV studio to the next for interviews, or you’re at the event you’ve spent weeks and months promoting, or you’re hosting a live TV remote, or you’re writing press releases, or you’re shooting and editing a video for Facebook or your company’s website — you get the picture.
You’re actually doing different things every day and that’s a lot of fun.
I also love that in PR you get to mix it up with other organizations.
The easiest example of this is if you work at an agency. You might be in charge of half a dozen accounts which is to say you manage about six different clients’ or companies’ PR efforts.
And that’s great because even though the act of pitching is the same for each, you’re able to wear different company-colored glasses, if you will, and feel as if you work for a different company every day.
If you’re a one-organization person, collaboration happens all the time.
At Orlando Science Center, I was fortunate to work with the PR and marketing teams of Lucasfilm, Disney, Nickelodeon, Orlando Magic and even the Department of Defense!
As a result, I have connections at those companies and, just as importantly, new friends and colleagues who do the same job as I do. That’s rich.
That’s all to say if you get bored doing the same thing every day, you’ll love knowing that’s not a problem in the public relations industry.