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What does a Publications Manager do?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A publications manager is responsible for the production of print and online publications. They work for businesses, non-profits, colleges and universities, local governments, and other organizations that use written material in their operations. Publications managers are responsible for the creation of technical documents, marketing collateral, company procedures, business proposals, and a wide variety of written material. The scope of a publications manager's responsibilities will vary depending upon the specific organization and its size.

In a small organization or company, a publications manager often wears a variety of different hats. The publications manager is much more hands-on than in a large company, and may do anything and everything needed to produce written material. In a smaller organization, publications managers often do all the writing and editing, designing and laying out, and printing and mailing themselves, or with minimal assistance.

Within large companies and organizations, publications managers usually have a higher-level role. They generally oversee the publishing process, from initial conception through completion. Publications managers in large organizations may report to senior publications managers, publications directors, communications management, or people in similarly titled job classifications.

Establishing budgets and schedules, coordinating workloads, and supervising teams of writers, editors, illustrators, Web designers, and others are all jobs a publications manager may do. They may also interview and hire full-time staff and freelance personnel. Another important responsibility of publications managers is to negotiate prices with print vendors and approve final products before they are printed and distributed.

Publications managers are often called upon by other departments within a company or organization to offer advice about putting together written materials. They edit the work of people in other organizations and must be diplomatic in discussing and explaining editing changes. Publications managers are responsible for developing organizational style guides and keeping these guides up-to-date. Organizational style guides establish consistent style usage for words, punctuation, grammar, and other areas. The publications manager is the arbiter when it comes to making publications style decisions for the company or organization.

People working as publications managers typically have four-year degrees in journalism, English, communications, public affairs, or related fields. Publications managers must have excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills. They should also be organized, deadline-oriented, be able to juggle multiple projects, work well under pressure, and have excellent supervisory and people skills. Strong computer skills are also important, especially for more hands-on publications managers who are expected to perform word processing, design, and desktop publishing tasks themselves.

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Discussion Comments

By honeysuckle — On Apr 27, 2011

This position sounds perfect for me! I am half way through an English degree. I love editing and getting things done before a deadline. I also like to interview people and love desktop publishing.

I can really see myself being a publications manager. Not only do you get to oversee people, you get to be part of the action. You are a leader and a team player at the same time.

By mandydances — On Apr 26, 2011

It sounds like a publications manager has a lot of manager duties. Because of all the responsibility and 4 years of school, I hope it pays well. This position sounds like a stressful, tiring one. Not only do they manager others, but also have to do a lot of the work themselves. Kind of a "Jack of all trades" type of job.

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