A bachelor's degree in communications, marketing, public relations or journalism is required to become a media relations specialist. Courses in business administration, integrated marketing and social media, and advertising are strongly recommended for those interested in this career option.
Media relations specialists, also known as public relations specialists, handle communications between the press and organizations, government entities, business or individuals, with the goal of creating a favorable public image for their clients. They need excellent written and verbal communication skills, a willingness to work long hours and the ability to deal with reporters on controversial subjects. A bachelor's degree in communications, public relations or a related field is recommended to enter this profession.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in communications or a relevant field|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||6%|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$56,770|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Media relations specialists handle business communications for organizations, usually focusing on press, print, websites, broadcast news and media communications. These communication professionals may also have job titles such as public relations specialist or communications director. Public relations specialists work for businesses, organizations, hospitals, schools and other clients to strategically create good relationships with the public.
In 2015, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said public relations specialists held about 218,910 jobs (www.bls.gov). Employment is predicted to grow by 6% from 2014-2024, which is about average compared to all jobs. Those just starting their career usually face stiff competition for employment.
The median annual income for public relations specialists overall is $56,770, but the top-paid 10% of these professionals earn $110,080 or more, while the bottom-paid 10% earn $31,690 or less, reported the BLS in May 2015. Those working in business earned more than those in education or local government. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), spending on public relations totaled $5.7 billion in 2010, which marked a 12.8% increase over 2009 spending figures.
Communications proficiency is required, and at least a bachelor's degree is necessary for most media relations posts. Many media relations specialists have their degrees in communications. Academic programs in marketing, public relations or journalism may also be applicable.
Students should take courses in integrated marketing and social media in addition to the typical communication courses of business administration, advertising, finance and media, advised PRSA. Internships may lead to full-time work for recent graduates.
Attending professional conferences for networking, such as the International Public Relations Research Conference, might be a good career move. Publishing academic research papers is also advised. Organizations such as The International Association of Business Communicators host conferences, workshops and seminars. Additionally, certifications through PRSA and other professional organizations can enhance career advancement opportunities, reported the BLS.
Media relations specialists speak on behalf of companies, organizations, government groups or individuals. They represent their client to the media and their goal is to ensure that the public has a positive view of their client. In addition to a degree they need strong written and verbal communication skills.