Community relations is often described as public relations at the local level. Its main goal is to establish relationships with a community where an organization operates. Vice presidents of community relations handle much of a company's communications, informing the local public of products, services and programs of their employer. With the help of other PR professionals, they continually evaluate the local attitude, basing PR campaigns on these findings. If, for example, attitudes are negative toward a company, a VP may choose to support a local program, such as an urban renewal or education project, and then release information on the activity to the public. The goodwill can go a long way to improve the image of that company and thereby its bottom line.
Some companies choose to keep community relations in-house, while others contract out for these services. A survey by The Creative Group, a national marketing and PR recruiter, found that in-house VPs of public relations earned $115,750 to $190,500 per year as of 2013. Those working for PR agencies, on the other hand, brought home $114,000 to $194,500 per year.
As with any career, earnings vary by location, largely due to the cost of living. For example, salaries are generally 8 percent higher in Phoenix, Arizona, than nationally. An in-house VP of PR in this area could expect to earn $125,010 to $205,740 per year. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, salaries are 5.5 percent higher than the national average, bringing salaries up to $122,116 to $200,978 for in-house VPs of PR. In Charleston, South Carolina, salaries are roughly 8 percent lower than the national average with salaries ranging from $106,490 to $175,260 annually.
The six-figures salaries are at least partly due to education, as most vice presidents have advanced degrees. In general, VPs of community relations hold a master’s in public relations or marketing, a master’s in business administration or an MBA with a concentration in public relations. Also, most VPs of PR have years of experience, working in other capacities of community relations, such as PR director, media director, PR manager or communications specialist.
Though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) believes employment for VPs in general will grow by just 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, growth varies greatly by industry, and future prospects for VPs in community relations may be greater. Community relations is essential to almost all businesses, as public opinion can impact customer loyalty and purchase behavior, which inevitably affects profitability. In fact, the BLS expects job opportunities for PR specialists to grow by 23 percent through 2020, adding more than 58,000 positions to the job market. So, VPs of community relations may experience similar job opportunities during this same period of time.
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