Lindsay Olson

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What You Earn (or Should) as a PR Pro


Knowing what the market pays in the PR industry can help you ensure that you receive the right package for the job you’re doing. Whether you already have a job or are applying for one, you should do your research beforehand and know the average salary for the position for which you are applying. It’s common to be asked about your salary expectations during a job interview, so you need be prepared to handle the question.

Without knowing this in advance, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. In an existing job, especially if you have long tenure with a company, this information can help position your discussion around a raise at review time.

Just what are PR professionals earning? Let’s take a look at some of the data available. The average salary for a public relations manager within the United States, according to, is $85,761, but not surprisingly, the actual amount will vary drastically depending on which state/city you work in and the specific company, industry, and position.

Agency Positions
The figures below are all based on typical earnings from New York City and San Francisco. When it comes to agency positions, the following salaries are fairly common.

Account Coordinator: $35,000 – $45,000
Account Executive: $45,000 – $58,000
Senior Account Executive: $52,000 – $70,000
Account Manager/Account Supervisor: $65,000 – $95,000
Account Director: $80,000 – $120,000
Vice President: $100,000 -$150,000
Senior Vice President, Executive Vice President, General Manager: $150,000 – $250,000

(This information comes from the salary ranges my PR recruiting firm, Paradigm Staffing, sees for the positions we have worked on in 2011 and from the stated current salaries of the candidates we recruit for them.)

Keep in mind that all of these will depend entirely on the position and the structure of the agency. A VP in one agency may be the highest level next to the owner or the General Manager and require 15+ years experience. In another agency, there are still four or five more levels higher than a Vice President and the typical VP has half the years of experience. Other factors that could affect your salary include how many clients you manage, which clients you manage, your industry specialty, the agency size, and your previous salary history with your company or your previous employer.

Bonuses are another factor that are particularly common in smaller agencies that may struggle with offering the most industry competitive base salaries. Many do, however, offer bonuses annually or semi-annually. Some even offer new business commissions to employees who either win a new business pitch or bring in a viable lead to the agency which can significantly boost your income.

In-House Positions
Working in-house means you’ll have the opportunity to work on one brand or in a specific area of communications at the corporate level or within a division. Most larger companies have an in-house PR team and work with external agencies. The wages tend to a bit higher, especially at the junior and mid-levels and discretionary bonuses are common for managers and above, typically 10-20% of the base salary. Salaries tend to be as follows:

PR Specialist: $40,000 – $65,000
PR Manager and Corporate Communications Manager: $65,000 -$120,000
PR Director and Corporate Communications Director: $115,000 – $195,000
Vice President: $140,000 -$195,000+
Sr. Vice President, EVP, Chief Communications Officer – $175,000 to over $300,000

(This information comes from the salary ranges my PR recruiting firm, Paradigm Staffing, sees for the positions we have worked on in 2011 and from the stated current salaries of the candidates we recruit for them.)

Asking for a Raise
When asking for a raise in your current position, you should have a good reason behind asking. Simply telling your boss that you know other PR pros are earning more than you or that you have X amount of time with the company are not compelling enough reasons and you’ll likely annoy your manager more than help your cause.  You can certainly arm yourself with information and a carefully thought out plan to present to your boss. When you offer good, quality reasons with plenty of data to back it up and examples of your increased responsibilities/contributions to the company, you’ll find that you have a better chance of getting a salary increase.

Photo credit: ArghMonkey


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