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Public Relations Specialist

Job Outlook: 6% (As fast as average)

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What Public Relations Specialists Do About this section

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Public relations specialists evaluate advertising and promotion programs.

Public relations specialists create and maintain a positive public image for the individuals, groups, or organizations they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their clients and to increase awareness of each client’s work and goals.

Duties

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
  • Draft speeches and arrange interviews for a client's top executives
  • Evaluate public opinion of clients through social media
  • Evaluate advertising and promotion programs to determine whether they are compatible with their organization’s public relations efforts
  • Help maintain their organization’s image and identity

Public relations specialists, also called communications specialists and social media specialists, handle an individual’s, group’s, or organization’s communication with the public, including consumers, investors, reporters, and other media specialists. In government, public relations specialists may be called press secretaries and keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies.

Public relations specialists write 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 often are adapted for announcements on social media, in addition to publication through traditional media outlets. Public relations specialists are usually 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 About this section

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Public relations specialists work in many different industries.

Public relations specialists held about 276,800 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of public relations specialists were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 14%
Advertising, public relations, and related services 13
Government 10
Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations 7

Public relations specialists work for a variety of organizations, including schools, media buyers, and professional associations. They usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel.

Work Schedules

Most public relations specialists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist About this section

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Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree.

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have studied a particular field, such as communications or business.

Education

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations or another communications field, social science, or business. Through such programs, students may produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates their ability to prospective employers.

Although it is not typically required to enter the occupation, professional certification is preferred by some employers hiring candidates for public relations specialist jobs.

Other Experience

Internships at public relations firms or in the public relations departments of other businesses may be helpful in getting a job as a public relations specialist.

Some employers prefer candidates who have experience in the field through a school newspaper, social media platforms, or blogs, or through a leadership position in school or in their community.

Important Qualities

Interpersonal skills. Public relations specialists deal with the public and the media regularly. 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 or communications at the same time, which requires excellent skills in coordinating arrangements.

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 clients or their organization. When doing so, they must be able to clearly explain the client’s or the organization’s position.

Writing skills. Public relations specialists must be able to write well-organized and clear press releases, speeches, and social media posts. They must be able to grasp key messages and write them in a succinct but engaging way.

Pay About this section

Public Relations Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Public relations specialists

$62,800

Media and communication workers

$62,340

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $62,800 in May 2021. 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.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for public relations specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services $69,170
Government 67,270
Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations 64,430
Educational services; state, local, and private 61,860

Most public relations specialists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Public Relations Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Public relations specialists

8%

Total, all occupations

5%

Media and communication workers

5%

 

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2021 to 2031, 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.

Employment

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.

Employment projections data for public relations specialists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Public relations specialists

27-3031 276,800 299,200 8 22,300 Get data

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