dcsimg

Public relations (PR) specialists work in nearly all industries and sectors, from business to government to nonprofit organizations. They are tasked with creating, conveying and protecting a positive public image of the organizations or individuals they represent. These specialists are sometimes called upon to clarify a company's position on sensitive or controversial issues. The media, community groups and public interest groups look to public relations specialists to explain an organization's activities, products and services.

Other job titles that describe this occupation include public affairs specialist, public information officer, communications specialist, public relations coordinator, press secretary, public information specialist and corporate communications specialist.

Day in the Life of a Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialist jobs in business are slightly different than those in government and nonprofit organizations. But regardless of the setting, a typical day for any PR specialist may include:

  • Arranging and participating in press conferences, speaking engagements and fundraising events.
  • Drafting speeches and arranging interviews for an organization's top executives.
  • Managing the organization's communication with the public, consumers, investors, and the media.
  • Preparing information for the media.
  • Determining the most effective way to communicate with certain groups.
  • Responding to requests for information about the status or activities of an employer.
  • Working with others on promotional events, charity functions and trade shows.
  • Communicating the company's image and activities to its employees through interoffice newsletters and Intranet posts.
  • Comparing advertising and promotional programs with the company's public relations efforts.
  • Developing social media programs to promote the company's image, goals and activities.
  • Gauging the opinions of customers and the public through social media.

Most PR specialists work in offices but may travel to meet with the media, special interest groups, clients, and the public. Some attend community activities or events, either locally or at a distance. They often work long hours and weekends.

Important Characteristics for Public Relations Specialists

The role of a public relations specialist is to present, promote and protect the image of the organization they work for. To succeed, they need specific skills and characteristics. Critical public relations specialist skills are public speaking, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, the ability to work well under pressure, and the ability to write press releases and speeches for company executives. Those public relations specialist skills can equip these professionals to present their organizations favorably, even on sensitive or controversial subjects.

Typical Steps for Becoming a Public Relations Specialist

The path to public relations specialist jobs usually involves several steps. With planning and participation on your part, you can gain a wealth of experience starting with your college education.

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree in in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, business or English. These programs often require that you build a portfolio of your work. Showing a portfolio to prospective employers can provide proof and examples of your ability.
  2. Pursue a public relations internship, preferably with a PR firm or in an industry or sector you're interested in, such as healthcare or nonprofit organizations. As an intern, you'll gain hands-on experience and build a network of contacts and mentors who may help in your job search.
  3. Work on your college newspaper or in student government. You'll gain practical experience that may also impress prospective employers.
  4. Join the student chapter of a professional association, such as a local chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (affiliated with the Public Relations Society of America) or student chapters of the International Association of Business Communicators. Being active in such associations can give you an opportunity to meet public relations specialists and other professional contacts.

After you start your career as a PR specialist, consider taking these steps to stay at the top of your game:

  1. Earn a professional accreditation or certificate. The Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators both provide accreditation. They may require you to have several years of experience as a PR specialist, and you must pass an exam.
  2. Join a professional association of your peers, especially if you found this rewarding while in college.
  3. Take continuing education courses throughout your career. These programs and seminars can help you stay up-to-date in your field.

Sources:

  • Summary Report for Public Relations Specialists, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/27-3031.00
  • Accreditation in Public Relations, Public Relations Society of America, https://www.prsa.org/about/about-pr/accreditation-in-public-relations-apr/
  • Communication Professional Certifications, International Association of Business Communicators, https://www.iabc.com/professional-development/certification/

Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide Skills

Below are the skills needed to be public relations specialists education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening4.124
Speaking4.124.12
Social Perceptiveness44.12
Writing43.88
Time Management44

Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be public relations specialists education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Comprehension4.384
Oral Expression4.254
Speech Clarity44.12
Written Expression44.12
Speech Recognition3.883.88

Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be public relations specialists education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
English Language4.965.33
Communications and Media4.965.5
Sales and Marketing3.55.21
Customer and Personal Service3.464.88
Administration and Management3.384.25

Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being public relations specialists education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Getting Information4.834.96
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization4.796.62
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.586
Interacting With Computers4.543.5
Thinking Creatively4.465.04

Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being public relations specialists education overview and career guide according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Integrity4.67
Attention to Detail4.62
Dependability4.5
Persistence4.5
Cooperation4.42

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim10,130 $69,740
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington9,350 $67,400
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward6,500 $88,010
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land6,440 $66,830
Austin-Round Rock4,390 $67,390
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue4,180 $72,650
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach4,070 $62,050
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell3,990 $61,540
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood2,980 $67,840
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn2,500 $61,430

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Public Relations Specialists

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2
Please select State, Metro Area 1 and Metro Area 2
Select different Metro Areas
Employment
Salary

Total employment and salary for professions similar to public relations specialists

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Public Relations Specialists Education Overview and Career Guide.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.