The term "publicist" immediately conjures up images of movie stars and other celebrities, as professionals working in this field are sometimes paid top dollar to field press inquiries and manage the correspondence between their clients and the general public. Not all of these public relations professionals work for large firms or famous individuals, however. Some earn their living as their own bosses and may work for organizations, business and individuals in other fields.
The average annual salary for salaried publicists who work for government entities, businesses and academic institutions is approximately $55,530, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, in comparison, a freelance publicist may earn between $44,000 and $52,000 annually, notes the Career Bliss salary report for R&R Event Sales Management Group.
Much like attorneys, freelance publicists can charge by the hour or receive monthly retainer fees for their services. Rates may be determined by experience, reputation and services rendered. According to the website Wakeup Later, freelance publicists charge by the hour to give clients a more clear understanding of what they are paying for. Rates for freelance publicists can range from $50 to as much as $250 per hour, though a freelance publicist with at least 10 years experience will charge between $75 and $100 per hour, according to Red Jeweled Media. Hourly rates may include writing biographies, contacting members of the press and developing press kits.
Retainer rates for freelance publicists may vary as much as hourly rates. The website No Sweat PR states that these professionals may charge a few hundred dollars per month to several thousand dollars per month. Typically, larger public relations firms charge much higher retainer fees. For these fees, publicists work to secure interviews, write and obtain news articles and promote via social media and traditional media sources.
In some cases, freelance publicists may charge per job. As an example, a professional may charge to write a biography. Laura Claffey, founding member of Wildfire Publicity, a freelance publicity firm, states that her rates start at $100 per job plus expenses. Those who charge per project typically define projects as Claffey does with her musical artists, charging $80 per tour date for print and radio releases, or $40 per date for one of the services.
2016 Salary Information for Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $58,020 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, public relations specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $42,450, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $79,650, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 259,600 people were employed in the U.S. as public relations specialists.