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A public relations manager is responsible for overseeing external communications at companies, non-profits, government entities, and other organizations. Depending upon the organization, this person might be called an external communications manager, a media relations manager, a public affairs manager, or a press secretary. Whatever the title, the main objective of someone in this position is to try and ensure a positive public image for his or her organization. To do this, he or she seeks to build good relationships with interest groups that may include the media, investors, government officials, the local community, and others.
As senior public relations (PR) professionals, public relations managers advise top company leaders about the best ways to promote their organizations. They typically report to communications directors or similarly titled positions. PR managers may oversee employees in media relations, community relations, employee communications, and other communications areas. These employees are often called public relations specialists or communications specialists.
In addition to overseeing full-time employees, the public relations manager might hire and manage freelance copy writers, graphic designers, and others. He or she will also typically manage the public relations department budget. Some of the responsibilities of this job and other PR staff members are to field media questions and pitch stories to the media, prepare media kits, and organize press conferences. Public relations professionals also release information to counter negative publicity and handle crisis and emergency communications.
Writing and editing copy is also a focus of PR managers. They create speeches for organizational leaders, write Internet copy, and prepare articles for corporate newsletters. Developing advertising and marketing communications material may also fall under the umbrella of this job. Managers may be responsible for creating it themselves or for working with advertising agencies and marketing professionals.
Four-year degrees or higher in communications, public relations, journalism, or related fields are typical of people working in the public relations profession. Many public relations students complete internships to gain experience and contacts in the profession. Certification in public relations is available through professional organizations and can be especially beneficial to someone seeking to become a manager in the field.
Good writing and communications skills are usually essential for the job of public relations manager. A flexible, positive, and outgoing personality is helpful to work in the dynamic, and sometimes stressful, public relations environment. Other characteristics of successful PR professionals include creativity, good problem-solving and decision-making skills, and the ability to think strategically.