Public Relations Specialist
By Dawn Rosenberg McKay
Career Planning Expert
CAREER PLANNING CATEGORIES
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Public relations specialists communicate with the public on behalf of companies, organizations or governments. They are also called communications or media specialists. A public relations specialist spreads his or her employer's or client's message to the public, often using the media as a conduit.
In 2008, public relations specialists held about 275,000 jobs. Most of these jobs were in service-providing industries like advertising, health care, educational services and government. Some public relations specialists worked for communications firms, financial institutions and government agencies. Job opportunities have traditionally been concentrated in larger cities, i.e., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, DC, but in recent years there have been jobs scattered throughout the country.
Although there are no standard educational requirements for working as a public relations specialist, employers prefer to hire job candidates who havecollege degreesand some experience. Many who enter this field have majored in public relations,marketing,journalism,communicationsandadvertising. Their experience generally comes frominternships. Work in a field related to the employer's industry is also helpful.
Those who want to work as publicrelations specialists should have these attributes:
- the ability to communicate clearly
- good judgment
- an outgoing personality
- self confidence
Writing, problem solving, decision making and research skills are also a must for aspiring public relations specialists. The ability to work on a team is also important.
The Universal Accreditation Boardand theInternational Association of Business Communicatorshaveaccreditationprograms for public relations specialists. While not a job requirement, being accredited may make a job candidate more competitive.
Entry-level public relations specialists maintain files about company or organization activities, field inquiries from the press and public, and help organizepress conferencesand other events. More experienced public relations specialistswrite press releasesand speeches and coordinate public relations programs. Work in a small firm will provide a greater variety of experience than work in a large firm. As a public relations specialist gains more experience, he or she may be promoted to a supervisory position, including, in orderaccount executive, senior account executive,account manager, andvice president.
Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?
Employment of public relations specialists is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. However, this is a competitive field where there are more candidates than there are jobs for entry-level positions. Those withbachelor's degrees in public relations,communications, journalism, and advertising will fare better.
Public relations specialists earned amedian annual salaryof $51,960 in 2009.
Use theSalary Wizardat Salary.com to find out how much public relations specialists currently earn in your city.
A Day in a Public Relations Specialist's Life
On a typical day a public relations specialist might perform some of the following duties:
- preparepress releasesand contact people in the media who might print or broadcast their material;
- arrange and conduct programs to keep up contact between organization representatives and the public;
- represent employers at community projects;
- make film, slide, or other visual presentations at meetings and school assemblies;
- plan conventions;
- prepare annual reports and write proposals for various projects;
- keep the public informed about the activities of government agencies and officials