Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent.
What they do
Public relations specialists craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and increase awareness of its work and goals.
They typically do the following:
- Write press releases and prepare information for the media
- Respond to information requests from the media
- Help clients communicate effectively with the public
- Help maintain their organization’s corporate image and identity
- Draft speeches and arrange interviews for an organization’s top executives
- Evaluate advertising and promotion programs to determine whether they are compatible with their organization’s public relations efforts
- Evaluate public opinion of clients through social media
Public relations specialists, also called communications specialists and media specialists, handle an organization’s communication with the public, including consumers, investors, reporters, and other media specialists. In government, public relations specialists may be called press secretaries. In this setting, workers keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies.
Public relations specialists draft press releases and contact people in the media who might print or broadcast their material. Many radio or television special reports, newspaper stories, and magazine articles start at the desks of public relations specialists. For example, a press release might describe a public issue, such as health, energy, or the environment, and what an organization does concerning that issue.
Press releases are increasingly being sent through the Internet and social media, in addition to publication through traditional media outlets. Public relations specialists are often in charge of monitoring and responding to social media questions and concerns.
Public relations specialists are different from advertisers in that they get their stories covered by media instead of purchasing ad space in publications and on television.
Public relations specialists usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel. Most public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.
How to become a Public Relations Specialist
Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Employers prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.
Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. Through such programs, students produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates their ability to prospective employers.
Internships at public relations firms or in the public relations departments of other businesses can be helpful in getting a job as a public relations specialist.
Some employers prefer candidates who have experience communicating with others through a school newspaper or a leadership position in school or in their community.
The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $61,150 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,590, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $115,430.
Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
Organizations will continue to emphasize community outreach and customer relations as a way to maintain and enhance their reputation and visibility. Public opinion can change quickly, particularly because both good and bad news spread rapidly through the Internet. Consequently, public relations specialists will be needed to respond to news developments and maintain their organization’s reputation.
The use of social media also is expected to create opportunities for public relations specialists as they try to appeal to consumers and the general public in new ways. Public relations specialists will be needed to help their clients use these new types of social media effectively.
Similar Job Titles
Account Executive, Communications Director, Communications Specialist, Corporate Communications Specialist, Media Relations Specialist, Public Affairs Specialist, Public Information Officer, Public Information Specialist, Public Relations Coordinator (PR Coordinator), Public Relations Specialist (PR Specialist)
Advertising and Promotions Manager, Public Relations and Fundraising Manager, Market Research Analyst and Marketing Specialist, Copy Writers, Insurance Sales Agent
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Advertising Federation
- American Marketing Association
- City-County Communications and Marketing Association
- Council for Advancement and Support of Education
- International Association of Business Communicators
- National Council for Marketing and Public Relations
- National School Public Relations Association
- Public Relations Society of America
- Society for Human Resource Management
Magazines and Publications
Whether they are meeting with reporters… helping to expand a client’s online presence… or crafting public statements… public relations—or PR—specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the client they represent. Also called media specialists or —when they work in government— press secretaries, PR specialists handle an organization’s communication with the public. In government, they inform the public of government officials’ and agencies’ activities. Public relations specialists draft press releases and contact media who might print or broadcast their material. Many news stories start at the desks of PR specialists. Press releases typically discuss an issue of public interest and how an organization’s work affects that issue. Most of the time PR specialists work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend community activities, and occasionally travel. They tend to work full time during regular business hours but long workdays and overtime are common. Most PR specialists need a bachelor’s degree. Employers prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. Internships in a PR role, experience writing for a college newspaper, or holding a leadership position in student activities can be helpful in getting a PR job.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org