Navigating Digital PR Job Roles and Requirements
A career in Digital PR has many benefits: no two days are ever the same, the fast-paced nature of the news agenda means we’re hardly ever sitting still long enough to be bored, and the sweet victory of landing high-quality backlinks can make us feel like we’re on top of the world. Additionally, a career in Digital PR uses a myriad of skills from other careers such as journalism, content writing, SEO, traditional PR and social media management.
However, navigating Digital PR job titles and role requirements can be tricky. There are a lot of inconsistencies between agencies and brands, and many people don’t feel comfortable asking questions because they think they should just know. (Please ask!).
In an effort to find some commonality amongst the differences and to bring some clarity to Digital PR job titles, we’ve analysed 35 UK-based Digital PR listings that were live online in July 2021 to look for trending requirements listed throughout.
In this article we’ll outline the required experience for each level, the average salary for each role and the desired qualities for each job level, and we’ll conclude with the most wanted qualities listed in all Digital PR roles.
What is a Digital PR Executive?
Title: Digital PR Executive
Average experience needed: 7 months
Average starting salary: £19,131
Average top salary: £22,667
A Digital PR Executive should have about seven months of experience, which is the average experience listed across all the job roles for Digital PR Executives that we analysed. The average starting salary for a Digital PR Executive is £19,131, and the average top salary for a Digital PR Executive was £22,667. Many of the Digital PR Executive job postings didn't even have a salary band listed, so that added an extra challenge.
In order to find trends across all Digital PR Executive roles, we looked for certain words that had the most emphasis on them, and the words that appeared most within all of the narratives of Digital PR Executive job listings. The word “team” was the highest repeated word within all the Executive job descriptions. Mainly the job roles are talking about team spirit, and joining a team. That makes sense for the Digital PR Executive role, as it’s an entry-level role that requires the candidate to work with the entire team to support the Digital PR team’s work as well as to learn from others in the company.
Other trends in the Executive roles were around content strategy, content marketing and creating content. When it comes to campaigns, the main emphasis was around campaign launches, campaign targets, exciting campaigns and newsworthy campaigns.
The emphasis was definitely there to come up with creative ideas as an Executive, but nothing really outside of that for anything media related. The ‘media’ emphasis was on the ability to create media lists, the ability to use social media, the ability to get media placements and a little bit of mention of media relations experience as well.
There wasn’t as much of an emphasis on Digital PR coverage, strategy, or results in the Digital PR Executive job roles we analysed. This is likely due to the fact that the Executive role is mainly a supporting role and isn’t as highly accountable for results as higher-level roles are.
Based on the job role research and our experience interviewing candidates for actual Digital PR Executive job openings, here are some questions that may be asked in a Digital PR Executive interview:
Tell me about a time when you work within a team to achieve a task.
Please describe your favourite campaign and the role you played in creating it.
Give me an example of how you have connected and built a relationship with a journalist or an influencer.
When do you feel the most creative?
What media do you regularly read or follow? Give me an example of the type of content you enjoy reading.
What is a Digital PR Consultant?
Title: Digital PR Consultant
Average experience needed: 2 years
Average starting salary: £22,500
Average top salary: £27,500
A Digital PR Consultant should have about two years of experience. The average starting salary for a Digital PR Consultant is £22,500 and the average top salary for a Digital PR Consultant is £27,500, according to the job listings.
In order to find trends across all Digital PR Consultant roles, we looked for certain words that had the most emphasis on them, and the words that appeared most within all of the narratives of Digital PR Consultant job listings.
For the Digital PR Consultant, there’s a really big influence on team, teamwork, being part of a hard-working team, helping the team, and having a good team work ethic. As far as clients go, the emphasis was around operating on a range of clients and also having experience working on multiple clients. So as we can start to see, the emphasis for a Digital PR Consultant is going to be on juggling work - meaning the candidate is probably going to be responsible for more than one client at the same time. A Digital PR Consultant also needs to have strong experience, as “experience preferred” was included at minimum. Also, campaign management experience was required for several of the roles.
As far as “media” was represented, the emphasis was more on knowing social media and for “campaign” it was typical to require experience of campaign management. There wasn’t really an emphasis on results or needing to get a certain type of results or meeting specific KPIs. Another thing clearly missing was any talk of strategy. So perhaps it is less important for a candidate to show examples of strategy and results when interviewing for a Digital PR Consultant role; however, one could argue, that for all digital PR roles, it's really important that a candidate have at least a few examples of the typical results you would get for a campaign, and maybe another example for a campaign that functioned really well and hit and got loads of placements.
Here are some questions that may be asked in a Digital PR Consultant interview:
Give me an example of how you have successfully juggled multiple projects at once.
Give me an example of a time when you worked under pressure to get the job done.
Describe a time when you helped a junior team member with a task.
Explain your campaign management process - where do you start and what are some key points along the way?
What is a Digital PR Strategist?
Title: Digital PR Strategist
Average experience needed: 2.5 years
Average starting salary: £27,500
Average top salary: £37,333
A Digital PR Strategist should have about 2.5 years of experience. The average starting salary for a Digital PR Strategist is £27,500 and the average top salary for a Digital PR Strategist is £37,333.
As with the other roles above, in order to find trends across all Digital PR Strategist roles, we looked for certain words that had the most emphasis on them, and the words that appeared most within all of the narratives of Digital PR Strategist job listings.
For a Digital PR Consultant, there’s a big emphasis on clients, team, campaigns and SEO. The job listings emphasised working with clients, managing clients and also “top tier” clients. This is the first time we noticed agencies really trying to get people to apply based on the size and popularity of their previous clients. Note to any Digital PR Strategist interviewees: It’s time to name drop. The campaign work requirements were around campaign ideas, owning campaigns, delivering campaigns and general campaign knowledge.
SEO experience made its debut appearance here at the Digital PR Strategist level. Agencies would like you to know SEO basics, be able to work with the SEO team (and provide an example of how you've done that), and also to know the basic SEO strategies for link acquisition. Terms around “team” focused on wanting a team player in a team environment and someone who could maybe start to manage a team or who might want to manage a team in the future.
Interestingly, there wasn’t an emphasis on analysing any data or even data collection. Anything like that wasn't really brought up, which was kind of surprising. Also, there wasn't a push for coverage as much as there was for SEO experience, campaign experience, team leading experience and knowing how to talk to clients.
Here are some questions that may be asked in a Digital PR Strategist interview:
Describe the process you use to ideate for campaigns.
Explain the process of how you prepare for a client call.
How do you handle difficult client conversations? Give an example.
Explain your understanding of how link acquisition impacts SEO.
What is a Digital PR Specialist?
Title: Digital PR Specialist
Average experience needed: 2 years
Average salary: £30,000
A Digital PR Specialist should have about two years of experience. The average salary for a Digital PR Specialist is £30,000. There were not enough job listings available for this role to calculate the average top salary.
For a Digital PR Specialist, the emphasis for campaign experience was similar to previous roles. The emphasis for campaigns were on ownership of campaigns but also pitching campaigns to clients and reporting on campaigns. You’d also want to mention your experience managing campaigns of different sizes and budgets.
Here we see the first appearance of public speaking experience. This is the first mention of having public speaking experience for this level. So if you've participated on any webinars, or done any public speaking at all you’d benefit from making that known at this level.
As with all Digital PR roles, it’s all about teamwork. At this level, the focus is more about team mentoring, supporting the team, and upscaling a team. So at this level you’d want to talk more about what you can do to help your team versus how you’ve worked within a team.
And finally, “client” experience was focused on dealing with client websites, client management, client campaigns and pitching to clients.
Here are some questions that may be asked in a Digital PR Strategist interview:
What tools and approaches have you used to report on campaign results and ROI?
Tell me about a time when you provided excellent client customer service.
Do you have any industry public speaking experience or thought leadership or blogging experience?
What is a Digital PR Manager?
Title: Digital PR Manager
Average experience needed: 3 years
Average starting salary: £35,000
Average top salary: £45,666
A Digital PR Manager should have about three years of experience. The average starting salary for a Digital PR Manager is £35,000 and the average top salary of a Digital PR Manager is £45,666.
At the Digital PR Manager level, employers are looking for substantial experience in all aspects of Digital PR. You’ll need substantial experience with several different types of clients from companies large and small, in the UK and worldwide. You’ll be responsible for campaign results and meeting KPIs at this level, so you’ll need to have examples at the ready of how you’ve met and exceeded coverage goals.
A Digital PR Manager also has to have experience managing a team effectively, as well as having the ability to develop a team, mentor team members, and know a bit about team building.
One thing missing was required experience in business development and creating training systems and/or documents. It was a bit surprising not to see those aspects of the role missing as they usually take a key place in managing a team of Digital PR professionals.
Here are some questions that may be asked in a Digital PR Manager interview:
Do you have experience building a team? Explain how you approached it.
What qualities and experience do you look for when interviewing for digital PR roles?
Tell us about a time when you had to deliver difficult news to a client.
What do you do if a campaign is not successful?
Give an example of a time when a team member wasn’t performing as well as they could and what you did about it.
What is Head of Digital PR?
Title: Head of Digital PR
Average experience needed: 3 years
Average starting salary: £45,000
Average top salary: £50,000
And finally, Head of Digital PR. The average experience required for a Head of Digital PR is also listed at three years, which was the same as the Manager job adverts; however, several of the jobs listed seemed to prefer that the person have a couple of years’ experience in a Digital PR Manager role first, vs. three years working up the ranks of Digital PR like the Manager role. The average starting salary for a Head of Digital PR is £45,000, while the average top salary for a Head of Digital PR is £50,000.
The main focus of the Head of Digital PR roles is on clients. It's all about having experience with corporate clients, blue chip clients, household name clients - so this is probably another time to name drop your current and past client rosters.
Then we have team experience, for which the focus is on team management, team leadership, team performance for clients and working with and managing client teams.
Also mentioned were general SEO skills and leadership. This is also the first stage where managing budgets appears in job roles - both clients’ budgets and department budgets.
What wasn't really mentioned was ideation or anything creative. Unfortunately at the Head of Digital PR level the emphasis isn’t on the creative skills! There wasn’t a heavy push for individual campaign results at this level, but more of a push for the whole department’s performance at this level.
Here are some questions that may be asked in a Head of Digital PR interview:
What's the highest profile account you've worked on so far?
Describe your approach to team leadership. What sort of team environment do you encourage?
Do you have experience managing budgets and if so, to what level or what amount?
And finally, how are you looking to progress further in your career? Do you have a three or even a five year plan?
To recap, if you want to be a Digital PR Executive, you should focus on teamwork, content writing and media contacts. If you want to be a Digital PR Strategist, you should focus on client relations, teamwork and campaign structure. If you want to be a Digital PR Consultant, you should focus on mentoring in your teams, building your experience and leading client work. If you want to be a Digital PR Manager, you should focus on client relationships, team training and management of high-level campaigns and their budgets. If you want to be Head of Digital PR, you should focus on client relations, building teams, leadership, SEO knowledge and any type of experience you can get.
Also of note, only two of the roles in all the roles we analysed required a degree in PR, journalism or marketing. Three roles listed degrees as advantageous or nice to have, but that was all.
For all the roles across all the levels, the words most mentioned throughout the job listings were teams, followed by clients, followed by campaigns, then followed by media.
Hopefully you now have a good understanding of the Digital PR skills that are most important for where you’re currently working in your career, as well as what skills you need to focus upon as you move your way up through the ranks of your Digital PR career.
Methodology: We analysed 35 available UK-based job roles listed online in July 2021 and looked for trending requirements listed throughout.