Public Relations Job Trends in Tech and Beyond



Posted: In: Blogs Industry Insights & Trends

There’s a laundry list of myths about public relations jobs, one of which is that PR jobs are glamorous. My coworker Rachel Berk explained this well: “Sure, we attend some high-brow events, tech conferences can be thrilling, and every once in a while you may find yourself giddy with excitement if a New York Times reporter likes one of your tweets. But these are the exceptions, not everyday occurrences.”

With this misconception of glamour comes a general misunderstanding about the industries that require PR acumen, average salaries for various PR roles, and the best states in which to pursue careers in PR. That said, here are 10 PR industry job trends, including some data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, that might surprise you:

1. As of 2014, public relations professionals filled roughly 240,000 jobs. That number was expected to increase by 6% by 2024, meaning it is estimated that there could be closer to 255,000 PR jobs just seven years from now.

 2. In 2015, the median annual income for a PR specialist was $56,770. The lowest 10% earned less than $31,690 and the highest 10% earned more than $110,080. The median annual income across all U.S. occupations is around $36,000, which means public relations professionals earn 40% more than the median income.

3. PR pros in the healthcare and social assistance industries were at the low end of the salary range while professional, scientific, and more technical PR specialists were at the top. The latter makes sense given the intel required for representing industries that are more technical in nature.

 4. In no particular order, the states/districts with the most PR professionals are California, Washington D.C., Texas, Illinois, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

And although Idaho is among the states with the lowest numbers of PR professionals, the state’s median income for PR professionals is oddly in the highest bracket along with California, Washington D.C., New York state, Virginia, and Connecticut.

5. Washington D.C. is the top-paying district for PR. In government, public relations specialists are sometimes called press secretaries and they are responsible for keeping the public informed (or perhaps uninformed) about the activities of government officials and agencies. In fact, per thousand jobs in D.C., roughly 21 are PR professionals.

6. The industry that makes up the highest percentage of PR pros (22%) are in the religious, grant-making, civic and similar organizations. A close second, coming in at 21%, are professional, scientific, and technical services.

7. The real PR bread and butter is in Silicon Valley, where the highest mean annual wage is $99,870. This isn’t surprising per se, just a relevant consideration for those beginning PR careers or looking to relocate for a higher income in the field.

8. Contrary to popular belief, PR is measurable given the vast amounts of data that are now available to us. Companies such as Iris PR and Vidyard are giving PR professionals and communications experts data sets and analytics tools that help them understand which messages are resonating with customers and prospects.

For example, at AirPR it’s all about PR attribution; we show PR professionals exactly how much site traffic results from a specific article or blog post, and how those visitors are interacting and engaging on their websites. Data-driven PR measurement to this degree of granularity is still a new concept to many PR professionals, but the industry as a whole recognizes how important it is to be able to correlate PR activities to business impact.

9. A PRTech ecosystem has emerged alongside MarTech and AdTech. So far, there are more than 85 B2B services and platforms that help PR professionals do their jobs better, ranging from visual storytelling apps to tools for trend tracking.

We’ve all heard the saying you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Well, you can’t budget for campaigns when you’re struggling to prove their worth either. I’m quite certain that five years from now, in-house PR teams will not only be using PRTech tools on a regular basis, but their C-Suite leaders will also require them to so there are means for proper measurement and evaluation.

10. To be a public relations specialist, a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, or business is typically required. In fact, my personal opinion is that some of the best public relations professionals are those who have written or worked for publications prior to working in PR. They understand how journalists think, what is story worthy, and so forth.

Additionally, I know many undergraduates who have opted for double majors in communications and business analytics. This is brilliant, and they will be at the top of the list for most companies looking for fresh PR candidates.

In the end, working in PR can be as challenging as it is rewarding. As an executive of a PRTech company, I’ve witnessed the industry evolve from being perceived as somewhat cosmetic to an engine that can be as powerful as an organization’s marketing wing. PR is an essential business function and the sooner we acknowledge it, the more talent we’ll attract.

A version of this article appeared on Forbes.