Public Relations Specialists
Public relations specialists create and promote a positive image for their employer. They also protect the public image of a company, an organization or an individual. A public relations specialist may be given the task of clarifying a company's position on important issues to community groups or public interest groups. Public relations personnel work in virtually all industries.
Some common job titles are public affairs specialists, PR specialists, communications specialists, public information officer, public relations coordinator, public information specialists and corporate communications specialists.
Public relations specialists provide information to the public and organizations regarding their employer's policies and goals. Corporate public relations specialists are employed by companies to keep the public informed about their products and services. A PR specialists answers questions and directs information to groups including the general public, consumers and stockholders.
Public information and nonprofit public relations specialists work for hospitals, government agencies, welfare organizations, churches and other organizations. One of the main objectives is to keep the public aware of their services, activities and accomplishments.
PR specialists try to improve relations between management and employees. They prepare inter-office newsletters and communications which promote the company's image with company personnel.
Public information specialists are asked to arrange and oversee press conferences, speaking engagements, fund raising campaigns and meetings. In some companies, they may be asked to evaluate a sales promotion campaign to make sure the campaign is compatible with public relations activities and goals. They use various types of media to convey their message.
- Conduct interviews
- Prepare material for events
- Develop and maintain a company's image
- Determine the most effective way to communicate with a specific group
- Respond to requests for information about the status or activities of an employer
- Write press releases
- Assist managers with preparing speeches
- Collaborate with others regarding promotional events, charity functions and business shows
- Observe social and industry trends
PR specialists may have to travel in order to have meetings with special interest groups, clients, the public and other groups and individuals. Public relations personnel sometimes work with designers, printers, graphic artists and other media related workers.
It's vital that a public relations specialist has excellent written and oral communication skills. They need the skills to effectively deal with various types of people. Enthusiasm and charm are beneficial traits for a public relations specialist. They also need to be able to work effectively under pressure.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted an 18 percent employment growth for public relations specialists between 2006 and 2016. There should be growth in jobs at public relations firms due to companies using contractors to provide public relations services instead of employing a full-time staff. There is also demand for those that speak additional languages. In addition, the median annual earnings for public relations specialists in 2006 was $47,350.
A good way to begin a career in public relations is being involved with a nonprofit organization. The experience gained through a nonprofit organization will help public relations specialists get a job in private industries which usually have a higher pay scale.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Many public relations specialists hold a college degree in public relations, advertising, communications or journalism. Some employers seek candidates that have training or experience in a field that is related to the company's business such as healthcare, information technology, sales, science, finance or engineering.
Numerous colleges and universities provide bachelor's and postsecondary degrees in public relations. The programs are typically offered in a communications or journalism department. Many colleges assist students acquire part-time internships in public relations which provide valuable training and experience.
Being part of a local chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (affiliated with the Public Relations Society of America) or part of student chapters of the International Association of Business Communicators offer opportunities to meet public relations specialists and make professional contacts that can be useful when looking for a job in the field.
Some useful college courses are public affairs, public speaking, advertising, business administration, sociology, psychology, political science, graphic and audiovisual production, creative and technical writing, and journalism.
Some public relations personnel attend continuing education programs and seminars to stay up-to-date in the field. Professional recognition via accreditation may be useful in getting a job. Accreditation is provided by the Public Relations Society of America. Accreditation requires five years experience and passing an oral and written test. The International Association of Business Communicators also offers an accreditation program for public relations specialists.
The major job providers are private industry, service providing industries, colleges and universities, government agencies, public relations agencies and hospitals. Service providing industries such as professional, scientific and technical services; social assistance, educational services, finance and insurance; and healthcare are major employers for public relations specialists.
Schools for Public Relations Specialists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.