What They Do: Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent.
Work Environment: Public relations specialists usually work in offices. Some attend community activities or events. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.
How to Become One: Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.
Salary: The median annual wage for public relations specialists is $62,800.
Job Outlook: Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 8 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of public relations specialists with similar occupations.
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.
Public relations specialists typically do the following:
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.
Public relations specialists hold about 276,800 jobs. The largest employers of public relations specialists are as follows:
|Educational services; state, local, and private||14%|
|Advertising, public relations, and related services||13%|
|Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations||7%|
Public relations specialists usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel.
Most public relations specialists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.
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Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor's degree. Employers prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.
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.
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.
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.
The median annual wage for public relations specialists is $62,800. 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 $37,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $124,620.
The median annual wages for public relations specialists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Advertising, public relations, and related services||$69,170|
|Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations||$64,430|
|Educational services; state, local, and private||$61,860|
Most public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.
Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 8 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.
About 27,400 openings for public relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
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 use of social media also is expected to create opportunities 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 social media effectively.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
|Public relations specialists||276,800||299,200||8||22,300|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.