Press Officer: Job Duties, Salary and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a press officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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A press officer is a public relations specialist who is responsible for maintaining a company's positive public image. A good first step in pursuing this career is to earn a bachelor's degree in public relations or a related field. The subjects that many press officers may choose for a minor include journalism, political science, or communications.

Essential Information

Press officers, also known as public relations specialists and press secretaries, monitor, manage, and protect an organization's public image, especially when it is given attention through the news media. Press officers must have the knowledge, training, and skills to deal with events that may affect a company's image. They generally hold bachelor's degrees in public relations, and training in journalism and political science is often useful.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in public relations or related field
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% (all public relations and fundraising managers)
Mean Salary (2015)* $115,330 (public relations and fundraising managers in business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations)

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Duties

To avoid or respond to negative media coverage of a company, public relations specialists write press releases and advise company executives on the strategies and options available to deal with public perception about an organization. You may utilize news management techniques, common known as 'spin,' to present a positive public image of the company. Press secretaries often serve as the official spokesperson for a government department or a politician. One of their main jobs is to answer questions from journalists and others about the organization.

Salary

There are several levels of positions available in the public relations field. They include public relations managers and directors, who may hold the title of Press Officer within an organization. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reported in May 2015 that the mean annual salary earned by public relations and fundraising managers working for business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations was $115,330.

According to the BLS, public relations specialists earned a mean annual wage of $65,830 in May 2015. The top-paying industries for public relations specialists were securities and commodities exchanges; wholesale electronics markets and agents and brokers; water, sewage, and other utility companies; audio and video equipment manufacturing and the federal government, according to the BLS.

Requirements

A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum education needed to work as in a full-time public relations position. Press officers typically have a degree in public relations, and may minor disciplines such as journalism, communications, or political science. Public relations programs generally require coursework in the following areas:

  • Mass communications
  • Public relations theories
  • Media law and ethics
  • News writing and editing

These degree programs may also include coursework such as political science, economics, marketing, or business administration. Some universities offer advanced degrees in specialized types of journalism or political science, including public diplomacy, strategic public relations, or global communication.

Internships are not required, but allow individuals to gain experience in the field. For individuals already working in public relations, accreditation through professional organizations may serve as recognition of competence in the field, resulting in increased career opportunities.

A press officer needs to have very strong verbal and written communication skills, as they must often compose press releases, discuss strategies with the executive staff of a company, or answer journalists' questions about an organization or individual. They need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as public relations, and may earn advanced degrees in specialized fields. Salaries vary, depending on the position and the employer.

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