On the Hunt: Where the PR Jobs Are

April 1, 2015


The following communications experts participated in interviews:

• Lisa Bernard, communications blogger and consultant

• Sandy Charet, president and senior recruiter for public relations and corporate communication, Charet & Associates

• Debbie Davis, APR, ABC, public relations program coordinator, Ball State University

• Eric Minor, director of student careers and opportunities, West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media

• Lee Odden, CEO, TopRankMarketing.com

• Jeannette Paladino, APR, Fellow PRSA, writer-in-chief, Write Speak Sell

• Briana Wilson, public relations and social media coordinator, IMC graduate program, West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media

For this month’s career development issue, Tactics spoke with a group of recruiters and career experts to find out the latest hiring trends in today’s PR profession. Here’s what they had to say:

On the hot specialty areas

Sandy Charet: Health care is always healthy. I see a lot of movement in financial and professional services, but not in employee communications. Tech seems to be active too. I’m hearing from a lot of investor relations people who are looking for work or to change jobs, but there are not many new openings in that area.

Eric Minor: We have a lot of alumni in Washington, D.C. There’s always a call for folks with an interest in public affairs, health care, government and politics.

Lee Odden: PR functions involved in content creation, native advertising, integrated marketing communications and measurement are recruiting.

Lisa Bernard: I see activity and interviewing in professions related to food, athletics, information technology and education.

On hiring trends

Odden: I expect to see a continuation of well-rounded PR and marketing individuals filling roles at agencies and with in-house departments. As the importance of digital communications and performance measurement across media increases, the convergence of marketing communications and public relations will keep pace. PR jobs are increasingly cross-pollinating with content, social media, advertising, big data and analytics functions.

Bernard: I see a trending interest in talent that is “dual-competent” — that is, the young professional who has a PR degree, as well as another degree or substantial work and life experience in a specific field, such as food and hospitality, health care, education, athletics or international affairs.

An example would be someone with an associate’s degree in public relations — plus a master’s degree in food science — who is also a practicing vegan, or committed to organic farming and eating. These candidates interview well for PR positions in the food profession, as they bring both an enthusiasm and life experience that is genuine and comprehensive.

On the ideal candidate’s skills and experiences

Jeannette Paladino, APR, Fellow PRSA: I would say nothing has changed in terms of what recruiters are looking for. [It’s still] the ability to write and express your ideas, interpersonal skills in order to work well on teams within companies and agencies, [and] the willingness to learn new things and be flexible as the Internet constantly evolves.

Briana Wilson: PR professionals today are expected to have a more diverse skill set than ever before. Employers still expect skills in media relations, writing, social media and event coordination, but many times, they also expect skills in Web metrics, search engine optimization, visual information design, video production and brand management.

Today’s leading strategic communications candidate also has a strong skill set in integrated communications and the ability to manage campaigns. Employers are looking for [candidates] who know how to work on teams within an organization, as well as produce communications plans for use outside the organization.

Debbie Davis, APR, ABC: Employers want to hire those who are strong writers and have critical thinking skills and flexibility, are willing to learn and change, and have good time-management skills.

More companies also want new graduates to have the ability to analyze or at least interpret data and those who can provide excellent counsel and act quickly. Data-driven decision-making and clear outcome measurement are also desired skills in new hires. The PR profession is changing rapidly, and the ability to adapt to these changes will be critical.

Bernard: Regarding skills, strong candidates at all levels are in complete command of written English — punctuation, grammar and proofreading. Remedial training and on-the-job learning in these basic skill areas are unacceptable today. Attractive candidates are skilled public speakers and conversationalists, and they go between those skills sets ably and comfortably.

Regarding experiences, internships are critical. Successful candidates have had internships or educational environments that are diverse, such as [attending] college in the South and [having] an internship in the Northeast, or attending an all-female school and working in a male-dominated office. The real-world feel and eye-opening insights that these experiences facilitate complement PR-specific skills and bring to life the notions of successful and unsuccessful messaging.

On the top job markets

Charet: New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, and recently Atlanta, North Carolina and San Francisco [are strong markets right now].

Minor: Big media markets are always going to be tough to crack for entry-level strategic communicators. The interesting trend that my colleagues and I have observed is that students are looking at entry-level jobs based not just on market size, but also on overall quality of life. We have seen students land jobs in Boston; Austin, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; and Portland, Ore.

Odden: Anywhere with a strong agency and startup presence is going to attract up-and-coming millennials entering the PR profession, especially major metropolitan areas on the coasts and in the Midwest, in cities such as Chicago.

One of the hottest markets in the nation is in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Twin Cities have a thriving PR and advertising agency culture, which is rich with major consumer brands, health care and technology companies.

On employment opportunities

Charet: I’m seeing a lot of opportunities for entry-level people. I see a lot of jobs for mid-level practitioners, but companies are having difficulty finding good employees. There are jobs for senior-level individuals, too. More small companies — especially startups — understand the value of public relations more so than years ago, so more of them hire senior practitioners to run communications.

Odden: Whether practitioners are entry-level or more experienced, digital savviness and the ability to develop integrated marketing and PR solutions is a clear differentiator.

Senior-level managers who embrace the digital state of public relations and the convergence with marketing will be better suited to manage the influx of PR pros coming into the profession with tech-savvy expectations.

Renée Ruggeri
Renée Ruggeri is the editorial assistant for PRSA’s publications. Originally from Warwick, N.Y., she has bachelor’s degrees in English and journalism from the University of Richmond and a certificate in publishing from New York University.


Barbara Gunterman says:

Fantastic article!!

Sept. 29, 2015

Post a Comment

Editor’s Note: Please limit your comments to the specific post. We reserve the right to omit any response that is not related to the article or that may be considered objectionable.


To help us ensure that you are a real human, please type the total number of circles that appear in the following images in the box below.

(image of seven circles) + (image of seven circles) + (image of nine circles) =



Digital Edition