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What makes for a rewarding career in PR? Apparently, it’s not all about salary!

We asked PRs what jobs in comms are the most rewarding, either in terms of salary or other factors, and here is their advice for making sure you get the most out of your career.

How to gain true job satisfaction

Choose a sector you have a passion for

Christina Bowden, founder of agency Bowden PR: “My advice for anyone who wants a successful career in PR is to go into a sector or area that you have a passion for, or at the very least a strong interest in. After enjoying working in the retail sector for many years I moved across to the charitable sector and for me there is no comparison. The rewards I get from meeting the people I now represent are incredible. Every day I am sharing stories about people doing amazing work within their local communities. I work with WWII veterans, adults with learning disabilities, Care Homes and hundreds of grassroots charities funded by a Foundation. If your work gives you some of the best moments of your life, as it does for me, you know you are in the right job.”

Do what you love

Natalie Trice, career coach and founder of Devon Trice PR:“Find what you love doing, because that makes things easier and gives you the greatest job satisfaction. Yes, everyone needs the fundamental skills of writing a press release, using databases, researching and pitching, but as you progress, work out what brings you joy. For me, budgets do not light me up, but writing is something I love; nurturing client relationships comes naturally; and monitoring the media so I know who is writing what, when, is something that has stayed with me during my career. No one can do everything brilliantly, you are not going to win every new biz pitch and being left out of coverage happens, but spending time doing what you loves means you are more resilient when things don’t go your way.“

Find work that stretches you

Tim Lines, director of PR firm Nelson Bostock UNLIMITED, part of UNLIMITED group: “PR might not make many millionaires, but it does offer a really special blend of challenge, reward and satisfaction. My advice would be to find the job and role you love; within a company that invests in you and helps you to explore your potential. My advice? Ask questions. Learn every day. Never stand still. Work with new people. Get involved in projects that might stretch you or send you on a new path. Only then can you find the best role possible for you.”

Invest in yourself

Will Hobson, PR and London director at SEO agency Rise at Seven: “Many people think that networking and building connections are only beneficial if you’re looking for another role and need help resume building, but it’s actually an investment in yourself and your PR career. In the digital age, building a personal brand online is essential - so tap into your area of interest and own it. Also, having that platform to share and listen with other people will help build your own credibility.

“Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, it’s important to want to continue learning and advancing, as this is the only way to stay on top. Whether it’s using a new social network, understanding a new trend, or taking on a new project, continue to step outside of your comfort zone and maintain a flexible mindset. This will help you grow and become a more well-rounded PR professional.”

Mix it up

Jane Griffin, director of PR consultancy Positive Story PR consultancy: “Don't be afraid to move companies and switch from in-house to agency (or vice-versa). This approach will widen your experience, possibly in new sectors as well and will make you much more marketable. Working in an agency can also give you the skills and experience to eventually set up your own business.”

Most rewarding types of PR roles

Media relations

Jane Griffin: “I think media relations manager/director is one of the most rewarding jobs in PR. There is nothing better than the thrill and satisfaction of creating, pitching and finally seeing your client's name in your target media. Even better when what you've achieved positions them as an expert in their field and helps them to win new business or investment. The moment when the president of a company I was working for told me that he'd just won a new port project in the USA as his client had seen all the media coverage I'd generated will stay with me forever.”

Digital PR

Jo O'Reilly, digital PR manager at agency Salience Search Marketing: “If you're currently working in PR and finding that the financial incentives and opportunities for promotion are not what you hoped, you might want to look at moving into digital PR.

“The SEO side can seem intimidating if you're not from a tech background, but there are so many free resources online where you can teach yourself the basics, and nearly all the skills you use in traditional PR are directly transferrable to digital PR.

“Agencies up and down the country are crying out for digital PRs at all levels, meaning salaries even at junior and exec level are often better than elsewhere in the industry, and there are plenty of chances to progress your career quickly.“

Social media

Helen Reynolds, founder of social media training company, Comms Creatives: “For creative satisfaction, being a social media manager is one of the most rewarding jobs in PR. Social media is always changing, which allows creative people to use their skills of ingenuity to communicate in new ways.

“Social media has the word ‘social’ in it, and in no other discipline do you get to have that direct contact with our audience - chatting and getting to know them. That can be tough if people are negative or abusive, but it’s also really fun and fulfilling when you can make someone smile and connect your brand with your audience in a human way.

“Far from what your friends and relatives might think, that the job is ‘mucking about in the internet’, the role allows you to make a real difference: using excellent strategy skills, and balancing planning, with the ability to act quickly and wisely to respond to emerging issues and opportunities. “

Internal comms

Leszek Dudkiewicz, head of marketing at Passport Photo Online: “Internal communications manager is a job that provides a true sense of fulfilment. People in this position ensure that staff are well informed about all company processes, vision, and goals. It is also their responsibility to ensure that employees feel happy and connected to the company. The most rewarding thing about this job is that you receive frequent feedback from people you work with and have direct contact with them, compared to other PR jobs, where you reach out to strangers. Also, this position's flexibility allows you to test new forms of communication and master your skills.”

Account management

Abigail Outhwaite, associate director at PR Agency One: “I found being an account manager in a multi-specialist PR agency was particularly rewarding, as it offered such varied experience. At that point you’re still very hands on - getting that regular buzz from generating coverage, releasing a breaking story or creating something amazing - whilst you are also getting more involved in strategy, managing people and new business. It’s a great feeling the first time you have been entrusted with overseeing something big - like delivering aspects of a creative stunt, for example - and knowing that you and your team have smashed it. That said, it’s a real learning curve, so it’s also not the easiest role - but that’s what makes it so rewarding.

”Rachel Escio, digital PR and content specialist at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency: “In PR, the most rewarding job for me is account management. As the role encompasses the different capabilities, it naturally gives me access to the big picture so I could significantly contribute to various areas.

“I am at the forefront of developing strategies based on the client’s vision. It is also a joy to take brands and the values that they represent to where their right audiences are through high-powered projects and creative activities. And most of all, I enjoy the long process of storytelling, where we responsibly influence minds and touch hearts.

“Overall, it is a huge privilege to witness a brand and its communication programmes come alive. To get the most out of it, visualise the long-term impact you desire for the wider public and then, work backwards to achieve that.”

One way to get immense satisfaction and have the potential to make the most money is to start your own agency, but this is a gamble both financially and it could also take its toll on your physical and mental health.

If money is your main motivator, then check out latest research into salaries in PR which will be published in our PRresearch pages on Tuesday 31 May.

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