Become a Press Release Writer: Duties and Requirements

Learn how to become a press release writer. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in public relations. View article »

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  • 0:01 Should I Be a Press…
  • 0:37 Career Requirements
  • 1:35 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:23 Create a Professional…
  • 3:13 Gain Experience
  • 4:02 Become a Press Release Writer

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Press Release Writer?

Press release writers have careers as marketing communications writers, copywriters, technical writers, and proposal writers. Aspiring public relations specialists need to work their way up the ranks through a variety of entry-level positions, but opportunities for advancement exist. Once in upper-level positions, press release writers might face long work days and overtime hours.

Some writers may need additional training or experience to become familiar with specific industry needs, since they can work for any type of business.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field English, journalism, advertising, communications, or public relations
Experience One to five years of experience writing press releases and other communications, setting-up press conferences, writing marketing copy, and working as part of a team
Key Skills Able to meet deadlines, work on several projects; be capable of identifying top priority projects and be comfortable with supervising projects; good public speaking, customer service, and people skills; able to delegate duties; proficiency with InDesign and Microsoft Office programs
Median Salary (2015)* $56,770 (for all public relations specialists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), August 2012 job postings

Steps To Be a Press Release Writer

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A majority of employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor's degree related to communications. Other desired degree fields included journalism, marketing, or English. Common courses in communications degree programs include public relations, interpersonal communications, conflict management, marketing research, and group communications. Some programs require students to complete communications internships at local businesses.

Earning a minor in a related field allows students to gain specialized training that employers are looking for in applicants. For example, taking a minor in journalism may teach individuals about media writing, gathering information, and communications law. Students who minor in English learn about technical and creative writing.

Step 2: Create a Professional Portfolio

For press release writers, a portfolio is often a collection of writing samples. Portfolio samples include press releases or other types of writing written for college courses or past clients. Writers should continue to update their portfolio throughout their career.

Portfolios are more than just a bunch of papers in a folder. Portfolios represent each person's skill level, so they must be presented professionally. Portfolio design classes are often available as elective courses, but some programs deem this class as mandatory. Portfolio design courses in communications may teach students about selecting writing samples, adhering to industry standards, building traditional print portfolios and designing digital portfolios.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Employers want applicants with one to five years of experience in the field of public relations and writing. You can gain experience while still in school by completing internships with professional public relations departments. Some entry-level assistant positions at public relations offices may also help you obtain the necessary experience.

Additionally, professionals can gain experience through freelance writing. Freelance writers work for clients on a contractual basis. According to the BLS, freelancers often have the opportunity to complete a full range of different projects for varying clients. Since freelancers are self-employed, they generally have more control over their work schedule, which may be useful for individuals who want to freelance while still in college.

Step 4: Become a Press Release Writer

After acquiring enough experience in public relations, you can start looking for work as a press release writer. You can work as a professional press release writer for small businesses, corporations, federal and local government, schools, and health care facilities. You can also find employment with fundraising and nonprofit organizations.

Aspiring press release writers typically need a portfolio to demonstrate their experience as well as a bachelor's degree in a related field such as public relations, English, communications, or journalism.

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