There are a lot of lower level public relations jobs in fact the U.S. Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) estimates there are 188,000 people working as public relations specialists while only 58,000 were public managers. . Street level public relations practitioners have a different view than the administrative public relations practitioners. They do the ‘street level’ jobs. Specialists may only have one area of expertise while a manager might be licensed and have several.
There are five organized structures within public relations that one who works in the field could be categorized as. The first one is public relations agencies. These are the companies that contract their public relations to companies. Many times these agencies are hired to do integrated marketing communications (IMC) services for their clients.
The second category of public relations is within corporations. Corporate practitioners are company employees. Corporations offer the most jobs in public relations because they have the greatest variety of jobs. Corporations are organizations that offer services or produce goods for a client base. In most corporations, public relations jobs focus on specific publics specializing in one of the following areas—employee relations, media relations, community relations, business-to-business relations, or consumer relations for marketing communications. If a corporation is publicly owned—that is if it sells stock—some practitioners conduct research; advise the organization’s top management; and plan, execute, and evaluate relationship-management programs.
The third involves the government the book “Public Relations- A Values Driven Approach” claims that it is vital we have taxpayer-supported public relations units within agencies to offer counsel on governmental policies and are in charge of getting information to the public in order to be a healthy functioning democracy. Practitioners in this field are government employees. Non-profit or trade associations made number four on the list. These practitioners are usually employees of the agency they serve that are specific department/business/interest.
Finally, independent public relations consultants are self-employed that likely contract with clients on a per-job basis or may be placed on a retainer, much like a public relations agency.
Is PR a profession? I guess it depends on who you ask. I would say yes, if the practitioner is performing their duties in an ethical manner that is in line with the values of the corporation/company/organization they represent. Accreditation is offered through PRSA-Public Relations Society of America.
Public Relations technicians focus on implementation while managers focus on planning and programs. People that are new in the public relations field are the ‘technicians’ and they are primary focus is implementing plans and strategies that more experienced ‘managers’ focus on. Managers do more of the research, orientation, strategies, and evaluations for the technician to implement.
All photos by Ajai Dittmar- Baltimore, Maryland February 2011.