(Last Updated On: 05/04/2017)

Public Relations Specialist Job Description

Public relations specialists are responsible for creating and maintaining a positive public image for their employer or their clients. They do this by controlling the communication between an organization and the public, investors, and the press.

Public relations specialists use many different tactics to control an organization’s public image. Some of the most common tactics include writing press releases and contacting people in the media who might be interested in reporting on news or other developments that show the organization in positive light.

If you watch the news and see that they are interviewing an author, musician, or business owner, chances are good that a public relations specialist got them on television by pitching their expertise to the news organization and relating it to a news story at the time.

Public relations specialists often handle communications within a company as well. For example, they might help the finance team craft an earnings report so it communicates the organization’s successes (or failures) in the best possible light. They also frequently write company newsletters intended to keep employees informed on the things that their organization is doing.

Sometimes, public relations specialists organize events like conferences and fundraisers to establish an organization as a leader in an industry or to raise money or awareness for a particular cause. These events can be very effective, and they require a lot of work to execute effectively.

Public relations specialists often work very closely with marketing and advertising departments, since those groups have a huge impact on how the public perceives an organization. They need to make sure that all of an organization’s promotional materials align with the story and image that they are trying to convey.

Work Environment and Schedule

This can be a very stressful job at times, particularly when clients are receiving negative attention in the press. For example, when the BP oil spill happened a few years ago, people were outraged at the company for the negative impact they were having on the environment. It took time and a carefully crafted public relations and advertising campaign to return the company’s image to a favorable light.

Since a client can have a public relations emergency at any time of day or night, public relations specialists often need to be available at all times. In emergency situations, the hours can be extremely long, and the public relations teams work under a great deal of pressure.

This is a very deadline-driven occupation, and long hours are frequently required as the deadlines approach. In some cases, public relations specialists have to manage multiple deadlines at once, as many clients may need their help at the same time. Balancing multiple clients can be difficult, and can lead to long hours and a stressful work environment.

Public relations specialists spend most of their time working in an office environment, but in some cases, frequent travel is required to meet with clients or attend promotional events.

Most public relations specialists work full time, and overtime is frequently required.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for most public relations specialist jobs. Public relations specialists come from many different academic backgrounds, but most choose to major in English, business, journalism, communications, marketing, or public relations.

In most cases, this is an entry level occupation. Public relations specialists are normally trained on the job, where they work under the supervision of experienced staff or participate in a formal training program. Depending on the position, the initial training period can last anywhere between one month and one year.

During the training period, public relations specialists normally spend their time performing basic tasks like maintaining an organization’s records, preparing information for websites or marketing materials, and monitoring the news for mentions of the organization’s name. After they become familiar with the basics, they move on to more advanced tasks like writing press releases, articles, or speeches.

If you want to have a long-term career in public relations, earning a master’s degree can significantly help your chances for advancement. Though it isn’t always necessary, many employers prefer to promote employees who have a graduate degree. Roughly 25% of public relations managers have a master’s.

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Employment Outlook

There are currently 258,100 public relations specialists in the United States, with 12,720 new public relations specialist job openings created each year.

Public Relations Specialist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Public Relations Specialist Salaries

Overall Salaries

Public Relations Specialist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most public relations specialists make between $39,600 – $72,800 per year, or $19.02 – $35.02 per hour.

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