Public Relations Specialists

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 public relation specialist Jobs

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What Public Relations Specialists Do[About this section] [To Top]

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

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[About this section] [To Top]

Public relations specialists hold about 240,700 jobs. The industries that employ the most public relations specialists are as follows:

Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 22%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 21
Educational services; state, local, and private 12
Healthcare and social assistance 7
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 7

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

Public Relations Specialist Work Schedules

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[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Public Relations Specialists near you!

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Employers prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Public Relations Specialist 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.

Public Relations Specialist Training

Entry-level workers typically begin by maintaining files of material about an organization’s activities, skimming and retaining relevant media articles, and assembling information for speeches and pamphlets. After gaining experience, public relations specialists begin to write news releases, speeches, articles for publication, or carry out public relations programs.

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 that have experience communicating with others through a school newspaper or a leadership position in school or in their community.

Important Qualities for Public Relations Specialists

Interpersonal skills. Public relations specialists deal with the public and the media regularly; therefore, they must be open and friendly 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.

Public Relations Specialist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

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Entry Level Experienced

The median annual wage for public relations specialists is $56,770. 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 $31,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $110,080.

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

Professional, scientific, and technical services $59,430
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 56,160
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 55,500
Educational services; state, local, and private 52,260
Healthcare and social assistance 50,300

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

Job Outlook for Public Relations Specialists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 6 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 spreads 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. These media outlets 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.

Public Relations Specialists Job Prospects

Because many college graduates apply for the 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, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Public relations specialists 240,700 255,600 6 14,900


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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