Public Relations (PR) professionals transmit a message to the public about a specific product or company through news media. Working in PR involves ensuring that your message is portrayed positively through the press. A PR professional may help to create and implement a marketing strategy, or help to mitigate negative publicity on a client’s or organization’s behalf.

There are public relations firms, which serve many clients, and can be large enough to employ thousands or as small as a dozen. Many large, international PR firms are full-service, meaning they provide a one-stop shop for their clients. Other firms are specialized and serve clients in a particular industry, such as tech or media, or employ specialized marketing techniques, like multicultural PR. Finally, many large companies employ PR specialists in-house to handle the day-to-day PR needs of the company. Those working in-house for a company may work more closely with corporate strategists and executives, and possibly with an external PR firm on select projects.

On a day-to-day basis, a PR professional might develop and pitch ideas to the media, respond to press inquiries, plan and hold publicity events, train executives on media appearances, or write press releases and speeches. Those with more experience might help to manage a PR crisis. Sometimes, PR and advertising/marketing professionals work together to complete promotional projects. PR professionals should have great communication skills, be outgoing and creative, and dedicated to maintaining strong relationships with media and clients.

Public Relations Job Search

Most entry level positions in PR firms are as account coordinator, an administrative position that supports (and is often a stepping stone to) the account executive. In house, you might be a public relations assistant or coordinator. These positions often involve monitoring and researching news events, researching and communicating with media contacts, and preparing written reports of positive PR results. Many large firms and individual companies have PR internship positions, which allow newcomers to develop portfolios and contacts in the industry, helping to lead to full-time jobs. Most entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree. As will most jobs in the communications field, positions are very often filled through networking/referrals.

Columbia Resources

  • LionSHARE: PR firms that have recruited Columbia candidates through LionSHARE include Alison Brod Public Relations, Elle C Communications, and George Public Relations.
  • CCE Career Fairs:  Our Undergraduate Career Fair and the Spring Career Fair include organizations from many industries including media. PR firms that have recently recruited through Columbia fairs are TriplePoint and Crispin Porter & Bogusky.
  • Vault and WetFeet Guides: We subscribe to Vault and WetFeet, which offer profiles of industries, companies, and careers. Take a look at Wetfeet’s Guide to Careers in Advertising and PR.
  • CCE Sponsored Internships: Explore our sponsored programs, where past participants have interned at PR and marketing firms such as Astonish Media, HWH PR, and Uprise.

External Resources

Job Boards

Noteworthy Employers

  • Burson-Marsteller — main areas: corporate relations, health care, consumer relations, grassroots PR
  • Edelman — main areas: consumer marketing & healthcare
  • Fleishman-Hillard — main areas: youth marketing, sports and baby boomers
  • Hill & Knowlton — main areas: corporate, marketing communications and public affairs
  • Ketchum — main areas: brand marketing, corporate, food & nutrition, health care and technology

Professional Associations