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A Day in the Life of a Public Relations

At its core, public relations is about cultivating, influencing, engaging and maintaining a relationship with key stakeholders to contribute to the way an organization is perceived.

There are as many different definitions of public relations as there are public relations professionals. No two public relations jobs are the same. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), job descriptions can include responsibilities such as media relations, marketing communications, social media, community relations, special events, crisis management, research, and employee communications.

On a daily basis, the PR professional will typically engage in dialogue and interact with both internal business leaders and executives as well as the broader constituents affected by a company’s product and policies: consumers, shareholders, employees and the media.

A typical day may involve keeping the public informed about the activities of the organization, fielding press inquiries regarding a specific issue, pitching the media about a specific corporate initiative or disseminating information and news releases externally on behalf of the company. In a government agency, public relations may fall under the area of public affairs whereas the role will involve explaining policies, managing campaigns and navigating via political channels. Regardless, the successful PR person will spend a large majority of their day being an effective communicator—in print, in person, on the phone and via social media and digital channels.

The content of the work is fluid and there isn’t necessarily a routine day for a PR practitioner. Unforeseen challenges may arise whereby a significant issue, organizational change, material news development or crisis communications will take precedence over existing daily tasks—monitoring for news, maintaining contacts with journalists, setting up speaking engagements, producing talking points and messaging, responding to inquiries and speaking directly to the press on behalf of a client.

A PR person must be keenly aware of current events, industry trends and influences, both geopolitically and economically, upon the news cycle to understand how and when to pitch to media and the quality of stories that will garner the public’s attention. It takes a combination of analysis and strategy to get your client’s message and name in the public eye. With the proliferation of technology, increase in social media and sophistication of digital tools, communications initiatives are more directly measured and tied to business outcomes—creating more opportunity for the public relations professional to collaborate with areas of marketing and advertising as well as expand their traditional responsibilities.

Paying Your Dues

Colleges and universities offer varied degrees in public relations, communications and journalism. A solid liberal arts and/or English degree also can provide a great background to enter into the public relations field. A desirable candidate will ultimately need to be a good writer and effective communicator.

Work in the field of public relations requires familiarity with a wide variety of topics. Any major that teaches you how to read and write intelligently will lay a good foundation for a career in public relations. An internship in public relations is also a good way to get some practical, hands-on experience in the field.

Present and Future

Spanning a variety of industries and organizational settings, today’s PR professionals utilize a suite of communications and marketing disciplines to offer critical insights, develop differentiated positioning and deliver an organization’s message across multiple channels.

The more traditional requisite public relations skills set includes: reputation and crisis management, media relations, news releases, press conferences, procuring media interviews, media training, and serving as corporate spokesperson.

With the proliferation of technology, increase in social media and sophistication of digital tools, communications initiatives are more directly measured and tied to business outcomes—creating more opportunity for public relations experts. Many public relations executives have expanded job responsibilities to include brand journalism, integrated marketing communications, analytics and sophisticated community management platforms.

Quality of Life


The first few years of entry-level public relations are spent focused on administrative tasks such as media list creation, updates to reporter database, readership and compilation of press kits, and media collateral and materials. You also will be given the task of making contacts and connections with the media. It’s a great time to observe and glean from more senior-level practitioners in so far as strategic PR and client campaign management. Work-life balance, career trajectory and pay scale will vary for a public relations professional, depending on whether you work for a corporation, not-for-profit, public relations agency or in house. Those employees who are willing to be on call 24/7 will be more highly compensated than professionals who desire more flexibility with their schedule.


After five years, the public relations professional has increased responsibility and is doing the majority of hands-on work. You are crafting press releases and putting strategic skills to work managing a more integrated public relations campaign. You will have established your own roster of “go-to” contacts in the press, and potentially be supervising newer and less-seasoned colleagues.


At this juncture, the work of a public relations professional becomes less “hands-on” and more managerial. Toward the ten-year mark there is more strategizing and a focus on courting new clients if you are in an agency setting, or working with colleagues from different departments if you work for a corporation. The PR executive’s business judgement should be very well developed at this stage; often, senior PR people will act as a spokesperson for corporations.