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Public Relations Specialist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Public relations specialist positions require some formal education. Learn about the degree, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Public relations specialists assist organizations and individuals with building and maintaining a positive public image. This often includes developing press releases and drafting speeches. A bachelor's degree in a related field is typically required.

Essential Information

Public relations (PR) specialists act as firm representatives to the news media, and organize official public appearances and events. Competition is intense for these positions, but those with a bachelor's degree should have good prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some employers give preference to job candidates with internship, school leadership and/or communications experience. Professionals with at least five years of experience may obtain accreditation from a professional association.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in journalism, marketing or related field
Other Requirements Internship preferred for employment, school leadership or communications experience preferred by some employers, voluntary accreditation available with five years of experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6%
Mean Salary (2015)* $65,830 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Job Description for Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists act as liaisons between their employer or client and the public. They establish and maintain good-natured, cooperative relationships with the news media, consumers, the government, local communities and other public-interest groups.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most specialists work in advertising or public relations firms. However, they can find employment in a variety of different organizations and industries, including business firms, nonprofits or hospitals. Freelance professionals work directly with independent clients.

Additional Duties

One common duty of public relations specialists is the writing of press releases about their client or organization. Another is contacting reporters, producers and editors in print and broadcast media who might create stories with these press releases. Specialists also often maintain a press release database. In addition, they may be responsible for organizing promotional or community-centered programs and events. These might include speaking engagements for officials, conventions or public presentations - for which specialists may need to write the speeches.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the BLS, the mean salary for public relations specialists was $65,830 per year as of 2015 (www.bls.gov). The same source also reported that employment of these professionals was expected to grow by about 6% from 2014-2024, which is about average compared to all other job sectors. Strong competition was expected for entry-level jobs.

Education and Career Requirements

A 4-year bachelor's degree in a PR-related area like journalism, marketing or communications is frequently required for entry-level positions. Many colleges or universities offer specific public relations certificate programs or majors. Individual courses in public relations or business communication, in addition to a liberal arts and writing core, also suffice. Completing an internship while in school can greatly improve an individual's job prospects.

Accreditation Information

For career advancement, those with over five years of experience as a public relations specialist may be eligible for accreditation from the Universal Accreditation Board, in conjunction with the Public Relations Society of America or the International Association of Business Communicators. Both accreditation programs require the candidate to pass exams and present a portfolio of work.

Public relations specialists often develop and execute communications plans that help both organizations and individuals with managing their public image. A bachelor's degree is typically required and accreditation is available to those with industry experience. Job growth in this field is projected to be about average in the 2014-2024 decade.

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