What is a public relations graduate scheme? (With roles)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organisations and public personalities often rely on internal or external assistance to preserve a positive reputation with their target audience. Conventionally, this would be done by employing a public relations expert or hiring a public relations agency. Pursuing a graduate scheme is one way to begin a career as a PR professional. In this article, we discuss public relations graduate schemes and examine a range of jobs in the world of PR.

Related: What Is Public Relations? (Plus PR Strategies and Tips)

What is a public relations graduate scheme?

A public relations graduate scheme is a structured training programme offered by a company to develop its future leaders in the public relations sector. Usually lasting between one and two years, graduate schemes cover a range of specialisms, including marketing, finance, human resources, law and management.

A PR graduate scheme may involve working across different business functions, teams and locations. They may focus on a specific job role or organise applicants into rotating placements that take place over time. In either case, completing a graduate scheme requires significant flexibility. Placements are competitive, with places in high-profile companies often limited to just a handful of applicants. It is, therefore, a good idea to specifically tailor your CV to the public relations sector if you're interested in participating in a graduate scheme.

How can I learn more about employer programmes?

For those interested in working for a specific company, following its social media pages and visiting its website will give you a good sense of the company's culture and values. While at university, you can attend careers fairs either in-person or virtually. Some companies run recruitment events to promote their graduate schemes, where you get the opportunity to hear from recent graduates about what it means to work with a specific employer.

Is there a deadline for graduate schemes?

Graduate schemes usually open in the summer and close in November or December of the second year of your study. Due to the competitive nature of graduate schemes, including those in public relations, it's advisable to apply early. Some organisations fill their positions continuously and close as soon as they're full.

What is the application process?

While an online job application is normally the first step, guidance regarding CVs and cover letters can still be helpful. You can also look into the specific interview questions, assessment centres and psychometric tests the company requires. To streamline the application process, employers now utilise social media and other online platforms to share helpful information with candidates, including tips on preparing for assessment centres and passing online tests. Take the opportunity to make use of any information you can find, as each company may have widely varying requirements for their graduate schemes.

Can I expect a permanent position?

The likelihood of a company offering graduates a permanent position is relatively high, although there is no guarantee. The company may consider factors such as your job performance during the graduate scheme before offering you a permanent position. Therefore, if you plan to apply for a programme, it's wise to check the potential outcomes so you know what to reasonably expect when it ends.

Jobs in public relations

Completing a public relations graduate scheme can lead to many different successful careers. Here are 20 roles to consider:

1. Brand ambassador

National average salary: £12.25 per hour

Primary duties: Brand ambassadors attend promotional events to publicise a brand and market their company's products and services. They strive to keep positive relationships with customers, vendors and other brand representatives. Much of the work can be computer-based.

2. Social media intern

National average salary: £17,126 per year

Primary duties: Social media interns accomplish social media tasks in marketing for a business or PR agency. They often work under the guidance of an experienced mentor. Their earnings and workload can vary dramatically based on the company and its location.

3. Communications intern

National average salary: £19,172 per year

Primary duties: Working on a temporary basis, communications interns temporarily administer the procedures of communications departments and agencies. They report to a communications director or supervisor. Earnings and expectations can differ depending on the company and location.

4. PR intern

National average salary: £19,441 per year

Primary duties: Public relations interns work in a company's public relations department or for a PR agency. A PR intern is usually a student working to acquire the skills to become a successful PR professional. Internship qualifications and compensation can vary depending on the position and company. Most interns can earn university credits while fulfilling their internship responsibilities.

5. Marketing assistant

National average salary: £21,058 per year

Primary duties: A marketing assistant carries out the marketing director's initiatives for an organisation. Working with other marketing team members, the assistant's everyday tasks include helping to produce marketing concepts and carrying out market research.

6. PR assistant

National average salary: £22,842 per year

Primary duties: A public relations assistant assists with all activities at some level in a PR department or public relations agency. They generally report to a public relations supervisor to work on designated tasks and resolve communication challenges. The role requires flexible working hours.

7. Event planner

National average salary: £24,278 per year

Primary duties: Event planners organise events for individuals or businesses, including hiring vendors, managing the budget and entertaining guests. They regularly communicate with various service providers and members of the public. Numeracy skills are also useful in this role.

8. Digital marketing manager

National average salary: £26,236 per year

Primary duties: A digital marketing manager manages the online aspects of a brand's marketing strategy. This can include web authority, email campaigns and social media engagement. They often direct a team of junior marketing professionals and delegate tasks accordingly.

9. Inside sales rep

National average salary: £26,624 per year

Primary duties: Inside sales representatives interact directly with consumers to sell a brand's products. They're accountable for making personal connections with customers, conducting market research, following up on leads and organising sales data. Inside sales reps typically work from a satellite office or a company's headquarters.

10. Copywriter

National average salary: £29,007 per year

Primary duties: Copywriters produce text for online and printed marketing content such as websites, blogs, advertisements and catalogues. They may also compose speeches and social media posts to advance a business or PR agency's agenda. Copywriters require exceptional writing skills.

Related: What is a copywriter? Common duties and skills

11. Publicist

National average salary: £30,254 per year

Primary duties: Publicists communicate an individual or business's desired brand to stakeholders, consumers and the public. They create press releases, promote social media campaigns and give speeches on behalf of their clients to ensure they make a good impression. Excellent verbal communication skills are key.

Related: How to improve public speaking to communicate effectively

12. Public relations manager

National average salary: £30,432 per year

Primary duties: A public relations manager organises the activities of a PR department or PR agency. They typically supervise junior PR professionals and interns. Additionally, PR managers facilitate communication between a company and its target audience.

13. Social media manager

National average salary: £31,964 per year

Primary duties: A social media manager uses online social platforms to maximise a business's or individual's exposure to their target audience. Essential tasks include monitoring metrics, developing targeted tactics and staying up-to-date with the best social media engagement methods. They require a combination of communication skills and technical ability.

Related: How to become a social media manager: a step-by-step guide

14. Advertising manager

National average salary: £33,099 per year

Primary duties: Advertising managers manage collaborative teams to develop advertising materials for brands and organisations. They regularly use their leadership, communications and marketing skills to produce advertising content and coordinate objectives with other departments. This is a senior role requiring considerable experience.

15. Community manager

National average salary: £34,818 per year

Primary duties: Community managers manage a company's reputation with their customer base. They employ various digital tools, including social media. To keep their brand strategy up to date, they adhere to current public relations and communications trends.

16. Brand manager

National average salary: £37,200 per year

Primary duties: Brand managers monitor the relationship between a product brand and its consumer base. They ensure their company accurately perceives their consumers' needs and their brand message reaches consumers effectively. A brand manager needs to work with representatives from most areas of the company to ensure consistency.

17. Art director

National average salary: £44,655 per year

Primary duties: Art directors organise the visual marketing materials for businesses and organisations. These materials can include visual advertising such as print campaigns, billboards and online content. They frequently designate tasks to marketing department creative staff.

18. Creative director

National average salary: £64,091 per year

Primary duties: Creative directors are responsible for the visual elements of a brand's print and digital publications. They develop brand strategies and regularly lead teams of artists, designers and content developers. This role requires years of experience and an extensive portfolio.

19. Communications director

National average salary: £67,355 per year

Primary duties: Communications directors lead the public-facing (external) and internal communications of organisations. They can also work for third-party agencies. They typically delegate content creation to communications assistants, while creating some communications themselves.

20. Marketing director

National average salary: £72,684 per year

Primary duties: A marketing director oversees a business's marketing operations and strategies. They are responsible for developing a brand's strategy and marketing campaigns, and they manage overall initiatives and projects such as market research, creative materials development and the production of marketing deliverables. Marketing directors often delegate these tasks to people in their marketing teams.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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