The value of a professional team is measured not by its balance sheet but by the strength of its relationships with those on whom it depends for its success: the fans. A significant amount of emphasis is placed on improving the image of the team, as well as on building public confidence. A team must counteract things that are completely out of its control such as injuries and win-loss record by being a positive member of the community.
There are no defined standards for entry into a public relations career. A college degree combined with experience is considered excellent preparation for public relations work.
Internships are becoming vital experience needed to obtain employment with a professional team. The ability to communicate effectively is essential. The most common college degrees of those in PR positions are: public relations, journalism, advertising, or communication.
Many colleges and universities offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in both public relations and journalism or communications. Some of the courses for public relations degrees include: management and administration, and organizational development as well as writing news releases, proposals and annual reports. Other helpful courses include business administration, finance, and advertising.
Some critical characteristics needed for public relations jobs include: creativity, initiative, good judgment, and the ability to communicate thoughts clearly. Decision-making, problem-solving, and research skills also are important.
People who choose public relations as a career need an enthusiasm for motivating people. Their main job function is to motivate people in the media to run stories that show their team in a positive light. They should be competitive, yet able to function as part of a team.
Although the majority of PR directors in professional sports do not have accreditation, they are available to those interested in separating themselves from the rest of the field. The two most significant are the Universal Accreditation Board, which accredits members of the Public Relations Society of America, and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), which accredits professionals in the communications field, including public relations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PR directors for professional teams make between $25,750 and $80,000. Other sports business sources have indicated that the top end of PR director salaries is significantly higher than this, however, those top paying positions make up just 1-2% of the positions available.
Major League Baseball: $35,000 – $50,000
National Football League: $35,500 – $55,000
National Basketball Association: $30,000 – $50,000
National Hockey League: $25,000 – $45,000