Public Relations Specialists


Quick Facts: Public Relations Specialists
2017 Median Pay $59,300 per year 
$28.51 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 259,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 22,900

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Public Relations Specialists Career, Salary, and Education Information

What public relations specialists Do

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and increase awareness of its work and goals.

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Public Relations specialists

Duties of Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists 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.


Work Environment for Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists hold about 259,600 jobs. The largest employers of public relations specialists are as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services: 15%

Educational services; state, local, and private: 11%

Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations: 9%

Government: 9%

Public relations specialists usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel.

Work Schedules for Public Relations Specialists

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.

Education

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.

Other Experience

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.

Important Qualities

Interpersonal skills. Public relations specialists deal with the public and the media regularly; therefore, they must be open and friendly in order to maintain a favorable image for their organization.

Organizational skills. Public relations specialists are often in charge of managing several events at the same time, requiring superior organizational skills.

Problem-solving skills. Public relations specialists sometimes must explain how a company or client is handling sensitive issues. They must use good judgment in what they report and how they report it.

Speaking skills. Public relations specialists regularly speak on behalf of their organization. When doing so, they must be able to clearly explain the organization's position.

Writing skills. Public relations specialists must be able to write well-organized and clear press releases and speeches. They must be able to grasp the key messages they want to get across and write them in a short, succinct way, to get the attention of busy readers or listeners.


salaries for Public Relations Specialists

The median annual wage for public relations specialists is $58,020. 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 $32,090, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $110,560.

The median annual wages for public relations specialists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Government: $62,400

Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations: $60,250

Advertising, public relations, and related services: $59,490

Educational services; state, local, and private: $53,840

Most public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.


Job Outlook for Public Relations Specialists

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 9 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as 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 growing use of social media also is expected to increase employment for public relations specialists. This will create more work 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.

Job Prospects

Because many college graduates apply for a limited amount of public relations positions each year, candidates can expect strong competition for jobs.

Candidates can expect particularly strong competition at advertising firms, organizations with large media exposure, and at prestigious public relations firms.

Employment projections data for Public Relations Specialists, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 259,600

Projected Employment, 2026: 283,000

Change, 2016-2026: 9%, +23,300


Careers Related to public relations specialists

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.

Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain client accounts.

Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price.

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate all aspects of events and professional meetings. They arrange meeting locations, transportation, and other details.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain the features of the products they are selling, negotiate prices, and answer any questions that their customers may have about the products.

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing ManagersBachelor's degree$129,380
Advertising Sales AgentsHigh school diploma or equivalent$49,680
EditorsBachelor's degree$58,770
Market Research AnalystsBachelor's degree$63,230
Meeting, Convention, and Event PlannersBachelor's degree$48,290
Multimedia Artists and AnimatorsBachelor's degree$70,530
Public Relations and Fundraising ManagersBachelor's degree$111,280
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives$60,340
Writers and AuthorsBachelor's degree$61,820

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Public Relations Specialists,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm