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PR Titles are Out of Hand
By: Mike Bush
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A former colleague of mine showed up in LinkedIn's "people you may know" section, and I was stunned to see the title associated with this person's account: Account Supervisor. That's impressive, especially since this person has only been in PR for about three years.

It got me thinking about titles in PR...what they mean and, when you're looking for a job (or hiring for one), what types of expectations people have when they are applying or interviewing for a role.

I asked some PR practitioners their thoughts (since mine were along the lines of "That is a great title for this person...five years from now.").

Trey Ditto, CEO of Ditto PR, seemed to agree with my feelings on title inflation being at play here. "Big PR firms are creating a bubble when it comes to salaries and titles. Titles are simply a retention and billing tool, meaning if a big PR firm gives an employee a new title every 4–6 months, he or she will stay — at least for a little bit — and have a higher billing rate. It creates a massive gap, though, because responsibility does not increase, so you have kids that are three years out of college with mid-to-senior titles and have minimal true responsibility when it comes to account work."

But perhaps we're being too harsh regarding this particular Account Supervisor (AS). This particular title was the subject of HUGE variation, with people saying typical minimum experience for the role was somewhere between 4 and 10 years.

Rebecca Astorga, from Coded PR, added a valid point to the discussion, saying that "public relations is not a linear industry, and this system is also reflected in how agencies identify roles. You won’t find five agencies who demand the same work and have the same expectations across the board for their team members."

It's true, but when you're hiring, it can be really tough to understand why an applicant is applying for a particular job (in fact, it can be hard to write a job description that doesn't alienate sections of your targeted candidate pool).

In total, the group of folks that chatted with me shared a total of 11 titles in various agencies.
  • Intern
  • Account Coordinator
  • Junior Assistant Account Executive
  • Junior Account Executive
  • Assistant Account Executive
  • Account Executive
  • Senior Account Executive
  • Account Director
  • Account Supervisor
  • VP
  • SVP
That's a crazy number of roles, and it makes it hard to know exactly what you're hiring for vs what you're getting.

I went into this looking for clarification, and found that there really is very little industry agreement.

Thoughts from Brenda Christensen from Stellar PR and Brian Gottesman were synthesized into this post as well.


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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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