If you're looking to advance your PR career, you may want to pursue a masters in public relations. These masters programs prepare you for a career in the demanding field, teaching you effective communication and written skills in addition to managerial skills.
Masters in Public Relations Programs
Public relations professionals serve a vital and integral role in most companies and organizations. Public relations and advertising professionals are tasked with circulating information to the media and the public in a way that positively promotes and helps achieve the goals of their company or organization. Professionals in the field work to enhance the reputation of their organization and generate positive publicity for their clients.
Interested students can pursue Master of Arts or a Master of Science as well as their doctorate degree in the field of public relations. Graduate programs in public relations strive to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the role and relationship of communications, public relations, and marketing in today’s economic and social climate. Public relations master's programs typically combine academic training with hands on internships and externships to give students a well-rounded tool kit to be able to act as effective professionals in the field after graduation. There are a plethora of schools offering M.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degree programs in public relations that potential students can choose from.
Earning a Masters in Public Relations and Advertising
Students who aim to earn a master’s degree in public relations must put together their application packages for admission. Most graduate programs require applicants to take the GRE with a set minimum score and have a certain minimum GPA to be considered for admission to the program.
Prospective students must complete the necessary prerequisite courses such as basic statistics and marketing courses. Some masters in public relations programs also require students to complete a standard sociology class and certain basic writing classes as prerequisites to admission to the program. Most schools don’t require students to complete prerequisites prior to submitting their admissions applications; however students must complete these classes before beginning their graduate program. Students who are confident that public relations and advertising is their chosen career path early on, can major in communications, marketing, or other similar subjects to complement and enhance their graduate pursuits.
The public relations master's degree curriculum is varied and covers many diverse courses based on the core concepts of communications. Common coursework includes communication law, advertising strategy, digital advertising, presentation techniques, and public speaking. Other common coursework includes political communication, case studies in public relations, writing for the media, advanced public relations and many other courses.
Some graduate programs require students to complete a practicum or complex and detailed research assignments alongside of a supervising professor or other faculty member. Other programs require students to complete a thesis component based on a topic of their choice in the field. Other graduate programs require students to successfully complete a series of cumulative examination in order to earn their degree.
Public Relations Careers
Students who earn master’s degrees in public relations and advertising can choose from a wide variety of different career paths. Candidates who earn their graduate degree can work as public relations managers at large companies, they can work as professionals for PR companies, they can work as publicists and managers for entertainment personalities and well known businesses, as strategists and managers on political campaigns, and many other various career options.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics or “BLS” the median annual salary for advertising, promotion, and marketing managers was $115,750 in 20121. The median annual salary of public relations specialists was $54,1702, and the median annual salary of public relations and fundraising managers was $95,4503. These fields can be quite competitive and students should always try to find a way to make their applications stand out by making solid professional contacts and participating in internships while in school. Students should familiarize themselves with social media as well, as its use and importance in the advertising and public relations field has increased at a rapid pace in recent years.
The work environment for advertising and public relations professionals is often in an office setting for either a government, professional, advertising, public relations, and many other kinds of organizations. Professionals in the field can expect to work full time with some weekend work and a good amount of long hours. Public relations and advertising professionals also sometimes work outside of the office at scheduled events and public engagements.
The job responsibilities of public relations professionals often include drafting press releases and other communications for the media, fielding requests from information from the media and others, and assisting their clients in effectively disseminating information to the media and to the public. Professionals in the field are also tasked with keeping a positive reputation for their organization, writing speeches and setting up meetings and events for clients, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of advertising programs. The job responsibilities of advertising and promotions managers often include planning programs to generate interest in a product or service, devising advertising campaigns, negotiating contracts, working to develop pricing and promotional strategies, and providing consultative services to clients.
Public Relations and Advertising Salary Potential
The salary ranges of public relations professionals are as varied as the myriad of career paths that they can choose to pursue. Different career paths and their accompanying positions in the field come with varying levels of responsibility and the salary for each position will reflect that. Students who earn their master’s degree in the field can work as public relations professionals for major companies; they can work as publicists for the government, or work in the advertising department of an organization. Graduates can also pursue other careers such as working independently as public relations and advertising consultants for companies or political organizations; graduates can also pursue careers in journalism or choose to become a professor.
The specific salary for each graduate will depend on which path the graduate decides to pursue in this field. However for some guidance, there is some general salary information available for those interested in the field to peruse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for public relations specialists in 2012 was $54,170.00; this breaks down to roughly $26.04 paid hourly2. What this means is that half of the professionals working in the field make more than the above annual median salary and the other half make less. The highest paying states for the profession are the District of Columbia, California, Virginia, Maryland and Arizona. The highest paying metropolitan areas for the profession are the D.C. metropolitan area including portions of Maryland and Virginia, the San Francisco and San Jose areas in California, Framingham Massachusetts, and the Sacramento area in California and the metropolitan area of Los Angeles in California as well4.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for public relations specialists in 2012 was $54,170.00; this breaks down to roughly $26.04 paid hourly2. What this means is that half of the professionals working in the field make more than the above annual median salary and the other half make less. The highest paying states for the profession are the District of Columbia, California, Virginia, Maryland and Arizona4. The highest paying metropolitan areas for the profession are the D.C. metropolitan area including portions of Maryland and Virginia, the San Francisco and San Jose areas in California, Framingham Massachusetts, and the Sacramento area in California and the metropolitan area of Los Angeles in California as well4.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for advertising, promotions and marketing managers in 2012 was $115,750; this breaks down to roughly $55.65 paid hourly1. What this means is that half of the professionals working in the field make more than the above annual median salary and the other half make less. The highest paying states for the profession are New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Connecticut5. The highest paying metropolitan areas for the profession are Philadelphia PA, New York City, Bridgeport CT, Wilmington DE, Trenton NJ, and Los Angeles CA5.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for public relations and fundraising managers in 2012 was $95,450; this breaks down to roughly $45.89 paid hourly3. What this means is that half of the professionals working in the field make more than the above annual median salary and the other half make less. The highest paying states for the profession are Washington DC, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Virginia6. The highest paying metropolitan areas for the profession are New York NY, Wilmington DE, Washington DC, Philadelphia PA, and Houston TX6.
Public Relations and Advertising FAQs
What are the different kinds of Public Relations Masters degree programs?
There are a number of different public relations masters degrees that interested students can choose to pursue. Students can study to earn their M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. degrees in public relations. Each program requires a specific number of credit hours to be completed and some require internships and long research papers as well. The programs aim to give their graduates specialized skills and scholarly teaching in the field to enable their graduates to be thriving professionals after graduation.
Is there a difference between advertising and public relations?
Yes there are a number of differences between advertising and public relations, the main difference between the two boils down to money. In advertising you pay to put a certain message in the media to disseminate it to the public. However with regard to public relations the information you are putting out there is not something you pay for and thus there is no guarantee that any media outlet will report on it. However oftentimes, the advertising and public relations departments of companies are combined into one in order to enhance the quality and performance of both departments by integrating their core concepts and methodology.
How do you become a public relations professional?
Most organizations prefer that their public relations and advertising professionals earn at least a bachelor’s degree in those subject areas or at the very least, related subject areas. Most companies also prefer their professionals in this field to have completed a graduate program in public relations and advertising. Therefore, in order to become a public relations and advertising professional and give themselves the best chance of succeeding in the field, interested students should pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field. Additionally, internships and on the job training are also a highly recommended steps towards becoming a public relations and advertising professional.
What is the typical curriculum like for masters in public relations program?
Most M.S. and M.A. degree programs in public relations and advertising take about two years to complete. There are also accelerated programs, part-time programs, and online programs all of varying duration for interested students to choose from. The curriculums at most graduate degree programs in the field focus on communication studies with specific coursework in advertising campaign and strategy classes, public speaking, writing for public relations and media, ethics, crisis management and a plethora of other topics. Most graduate programs also include an internship or thesis component.
Public relations and advertising professionals are in charge of disseminating information to the media and the public in a way that either positively represents their organization or sends out a specific intended advertising message to the public. Interested students can earn their M.A., M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in advertising and public relations and pursue a myriad of varying career paths. Graduate students in the field can pursue careers as public relations manager’s at large companies or government organizations, or professionals for PR companies. Other possible careers include publicists and managers for entertainment personalities and politicians, political strategists, news writers, and many other potential career choices.
1.http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-m... | 2.http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-speciali... | 3.http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm | 4.http://www.bls.gov/current/oes273031.htm | 5.http://www.bls.gov/current/oes112011.htm | 6.http://www.bls.gov/current/oes112031.htm