Public Relations Specialist are in charge of portraying a company’s marketability, profitability and good reputation. Public Relations specialist are in charge of building a company’s image in order to give the public incentive to conduct business with the company or attract investors to fund future projects. Public relations specialists work for businesses, non-profit organizations, universities, hospitals and other organizations which interface with the general public.
Public relations specialists often serve as the company liaison between the media and inquiries from the general public. PR specialists coordinate fundraiser events, handle investor relations, and maintain the company’s good standing with the local, state and federal government. Public Relation specialists draft press releases for media distribution to address controversial inquiries and may also draft collateral materials such as brochures and other marketing materials for the company.
The mean salary of a public relations specialist is $51,000 annually including benefits. Additional benefits may include health care, dental, life insurance as well as retirement plans or 401k matching.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Public relations specialists often are in charge of maintaining the company’s public appearance. This may include setting up speaking engagements, sponsorship opportunities, and addressing any and all inquiries whether controversial or not.
Public relations specialists who work for the government are also known as press secretaries. Like PR specialists who work for private industries, press secretaries are responsible for drafting press releases and keeping the public informed about ongoing projects or issues of controversy or other points of public interest. Press secretaries who work for candidates running for political office will be responsible for scheduling public speaking opportunities for the candidates as well as arranging question and answer sessions so that voters can get in touch and have questions answered by the prospective candidate.
Public relations specialists most often work in busy offices under stressful deadlines. Often times work must be turned over quickly. Press releases and other addresses to the media often need to be done quickly to stifle controversy or act on events that favor the candidate or company’s best interest.
Public Relations specialist can either be employed by a public relations firm and assigned to maintain the reputation of clients and companies or can be hired by the companies directly. Often times, individuals with extensive experience in the field go on to open their own firms or work in supervisory roles to oversee the quality of work done by entry level and mid level individuals.
Public relations specialists jobs are expected to grow faster than other jobs in the future. However, competition for entry level and mid level careers is fierce amongst new college grads.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Many entry level public relations positions will require a 4 year degree in either Public Relations, Marketing or Journalism for a university or college. Additional training in business administration, marketing, writing, graphic design, finance, political science or psychology are also helpful assets in the public relations field.
Often times college students take internships with public relations firms to establish contacts and work experience in the field. Public relations interns are often tasked with entry level duties such as filing, copying and conducting research as well as assisting in the drafting of press releases and media alerts. More often than not, an internship with a PR firm during undergrad years will fruition into a full time opportunity after the student has completed his or her undergraduate degree.
Most firms and companies will have formal training for new employees. This allows for a learning curve to take place in which the new hire has time to learn the specifics regarding his or her client and the client’s needs. This will also allow the candidate to be brought up to speed with current products, projects or new developments by the company. New Public Relations specialists may be brought on to assist with ongoing projects such as event planning and press release drafting.
No specific certifications are required for public relations specialist. However, press secretaries working for government organizations may be required to apply for a security clearance.
In addition, both the Public Relations Society of America and International Association of Business Communicators offer advanced certification for public relations specialists who have at least some professional job experience. To qualify, candidates must submit a portfolio documenting his or her involvement in various types of projects for clients in different areas.
Public relations students can elect to become members in the Public Relations Student Society of America or with the International Association of Business Communicators. Both organizations offer marketing opportunities to help current students establish contacts within the field and source potential job leads.
Public Relations specialists can also apply to become members of the Public Relations Society of America or the International Association of Business Communicators, both of whom offer special designation to accomplished individuals in the PR field.
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