What is PR?

Here at GradTouch we want you to get passionate about your future! But this can be tricky if you don't know what you want to do. That's why we've created our Careers Close-up series. We'll be putting common graduate career paths under the microscope, so you can see what they are all about and ultimately decide if they are right for you. Here we're taking a look at PR.

What is PR?

PR stands for Public Relations. It is the presentation of information about an organisation or individual to the outside world. PR firms/departments will work to either try to raise the profile of an organisation/individual, or to alter their perception in the public eye.


PR is now one of the most popular career choices for graduates in the UK, so as you can imagine competition Entryfor entry level positions can be fierce! A degree in PR, Marketing or Journalism may be an advantage. However, work experience is probably the most important factor in securing an entry level PR position.

Look for paid/unpaid work experience in either PR or related areas, like media, marketing or communications. Writing skills are also essential for PR work; so it’s worth gaining experience writing for a student newspaper/magazine or setting up your own blog.

PR offers the opportunity to work either in-house (within a company’s own PR department) or for a PR agency rather (who companies/individuals use to look after their PR).

The most common entry level positions in the PR industry is:

Junior/Trainee Account Executive - You'll work with senior PR professionals to promote your clients to their intended audiences.

N.B. In PR departments of companies (in-house) the entry level role may be as a PR Assistant/PR Officer.


Most new graduates begin their public relations (PR) career as a Trainee Account Executive. You’ll then be promoted to Account Executive after a year or so, depending on how well you take to the role. PR professionals can then expect to spend two to three years as an Account Executive.

As Account Executives gain more experience they are often asked to take on more responsibility, such as taking part in new business pitches or being solely responsible of some smaller accounts.

After two to three years of working as an Account Executive you'll be promoted to a Senior Account Executive or Account Manager, before becoming an Associate and after a further three or four years, Account Director. Account Directors have responsibility for all the high profile clients/work and all the staff working on the account teams.

The Pros

A career in PR offers a huge amount of flexibility; after all, all industries need some kind of PR to succeed. ProsOnce you have a few years of experience under your belt you could work in PR in any industry that takes your fancy; be that for a travel company, in fashion, or for a charity!

In some cases clichés turn out to be true! People think of PR as glamorous and sociable career choice, and it can be, with its invites to parties, exclusive events and promotional freebies!

The Cons

Working hours can be long, with early starts, late finishes and work at the weekends. Press launches, crisis management, client deadlines and pitches can all mean you may have to work unsociable hours.

PR is often about who you know, so you'll also be expected to network and socialise with clients, the media and colleagues to build and maintain relationships. If you are someone who values their down time and likes to completely escape from work in your evenings/weekends, this may not be the career for you!Cons

Key skills

Communication: PR professionals need to be confident talking to a wide range of people – for example, your role may involve presenting to clients, dealing with journalists and meeting with groups of people important to your organisation or client.

Writing skills: You will be expected to write engaging content, whether that's a guest article in a magazine, a case study or a press release. Skills
Research: A PR professional needs to be a good researcher in order to communicate accurately and authoritatively on a subject.

Creativity: A career in PR will present you with countless opportunities to be creative, not only in terms of writing, but also in coming up with new ways to promote businesses and approaching new clients.

An eye for detail: If you are in a position to look over documents or facts for article verification, patience and paying close attention are very important. Mistakes could damage both your organisation's/client’s reputation.

Jargon BusterQuestion Mark

Brief - the outline of what needs to be done on a project
Copy - written material for printing, the text of an advertisement, a press release or an article that is being written (before it has been published)
Copywriting - the production of text for marketing materials, such as advertising leaflets, publications and websites
IPR – Institute of Public Relations The UK's leading public relations industry professional body who look after people working in the public relations industry in the UK and abroad
Crisis management - used within the PR industry, this term refers to the development of plans that can be effectively implemented when something goes wrong as part of a campaign for an organisation
Media Relations - dealing with and building up good working relationships with journalists
Press Office - a press office handles all media enquiries and puts out all company messages to the media on behalf of their organisation
Press release - written information that is deemed to be newsworthy. Often sent out to journalists and/or other interested parties
Publics - audiences important to the organisation

Pay Scale

Here are the median salaries of common PR positions in the UK: PR
If you are looking for more support articles on all things graduate job related, visit the GradTouch Advice Section


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