What Does a Public Relations Specialist Do? 9 Facts About the Job


A public relations specialists shape public opinion by creating favorable messages.

Public Relations Specialists are strategic and creative thinkers. They protect reputations, build brands and shape public opinion. They create and deliver messages to people using media. If you want to influence people, this could be your gig.

It is a fabulous career for the natural-born influencer ENTJ personality type.

PR Specialist Duties

A Public Relations Specialist career can be pursued in companies, the government, politics, non-profits and other groups. These so-called spin doctors can also be called communication, or media specialists.

If you have a knack for storytelling and enjoy influencing people, this career could be for you. Here are 10 facts you should know about a public relations specialist career.   

1. Public Relations Specialists Use Information to Protect Reputations

PR Specialists are experts at developing and framing information to make the people they work for look good. They typically perform these tasks:

  • Collect images, write pitch letters, case studies, news releases, feature articles, and content.
  • Monitor and analyze public opinion of their clients using tools such as surveys, polls, and listening to social media.
  • Build relationships with media outlets.
  • Write speeches and talking points for executives.
  • Coordinate press conferences and media interviews.
  • Build relationships with media outlets.
  • Write speeches and talking points for executives.
  • Coordinate press conferences and media interviews.

2. PR Specialists Need to Wear More Than One Hat.

These professionals are one part guard dog, one part sleuth. They collect metrics and information on how their messages are being received by the media, how it affects what people think. In order to be successful, you have to know:

  • The English Language — how to write and speak fluently, use grammar, spell correctly and follow structural rules.
  • The Media — Advanced knowledge of media production, what the media is looking for and how to present information to the media.
  • Marketing and Sales — Public Relations Specialist careers are a cousin of sales and marketing roles. It helps if you understand marketing strategy and tactics and sales techniques.
  • Software Skills — Although you can learn on the job, it helps to have a basic understanding of graphic design and photography software. database use and video programs.
  • Administration and Management – Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

3. Public Relations Specialist Salaries Vary.

The median annual salary of public relations specialists was $60,000 as of May 2018. The lowest 10 percent of PR Specialists earned $33,690 or less. The highestearning 10 percent were paid more than $112,310.

In May 2018, the median salaries for public relations specialists these industries were:

IndustryMedian
Salary
Government $64,530
Advertising
public relations agencies
$63,490
Business, professional,
labor, political organizations
$62,520
Education $55,790

5 Areas with the Highest Pay

State or AreaMedian
Salary
Salary Range
District of Columbia$88,670 $46,340-
$195,350
Virginia $71,280 $40,810-
$125,970
New Jersey $69,520 $40,060-
$124,290
Connecticut$67,520$40,120-
$120,590
Alaska $67,430$43,890-
$103,140

5 Areas with the Lowest Pay

Area or RegionMedian
Salary
Salary
Range
Kentucky $46,840 $26,740-
$81,530
Guam $46,700 $24,820-
$69,620
Louisiana $46,270$30,360-
$90,640
Mississippi $38,560 $28,160-
$84,980
Puerto Rico$28,750$17,320-
$54,220

Career OneStop Salary Finder Data 2018

4. You Need a Bachelors Degree to Get Hired.

Unlike other professions such as a psychologist, there is no standard education needed to have a public relations specialist career. You will get hired faster if you have a bachelors degree in communications, public relations, journalism, advertising, marketing or business. Employers also look for job candidates who have work experience and job samples from an internship or part-time job.

communications is a big part of public relations specialist careers

5. It’s No Surprise That Communication Tops Public Relations Specialist Skills.

As you might guess, PR Specialists need a variety of communication skills to have a successful career. These include:

Speaking skills: You must be able to explain complicated and or technical information to different audiences. Knowing how to be clear, use everyday language and make sure everyone understands your message is key.  

Listening: You also have to be adept at listening to your audience to provide them with the exact information they are asking you for. 

Writing and editing: You will write a lot of press releases, speeches and emails. Writing and editing skills are critical to the job. 

Interpersonal: People and your relationships with them determine if you succeed or fail in your public relations specialist career. From executives to members of the media and customers, you have to know how to build trust, work together to coordinate events and negotiate about the message.   

6. PR Specialist Jobs are on the Rise.

The employment of public relations specialists will grow 9 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is slightly more than average.

7. Where PR Specialists Work: On Location and in the Office.

Public relations specialists usually work in offices. They may also travel to various locations near and far to attend meetings and press releases, give speeches, and attend events and community activities.

8. Public Relations Specialists Work Long Hours to Meet Short Deadlines.

Most public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. They often work long days and overtime to meet deadlines.

9. Changing Careers at 40? Public Relations Jobs a Solid Option.

The exciting truth is if you have a bachelor’s degree and you can demonstrate the communication skills from the previous section, you can transition your career fairly easily. People who work for the media have the easiest career change. Get creative and find freelance or pro bono work to build a portfolio. For example, write a news release for a community organization and see if it gets any coverage.  

If you’re set on a career change after 40, check out this post. Still not sure if you need a change, check out this definitive guide of 5 signs you need a career change.

10. There’s Help to Figure it Out.

Is a Public Relations Specialist Career a Good Fit for You?

A career in PR is for you if — you want to create the news and build the image of a person place or company. You love working with people and think critically and creatively. You also have to think on your feet, meet deadlines and keep cool under pressure. 

Skip a public relations specialist career if —you don’t communicate well, hate deadlines and people, yuck.

If you are unsure if this career is for you, take a free career assessment test. It will help you find out more about who you are. I love the 16Personalities test. It is easy to understand and you can get detailed results for free. I wrote all about my experience here. Finding a career that you love is possible when you know and accept who you are. When you try to be something you’re not, rather than who you are, you choose a career path that doesn’t fit.

You should figure out why the job appeals to you. Would you enjoy controlling the headlines, working with people, fielding questions or helping build someone’s image? Do you have the communication skills to be on-point and deliver information? The world needs intelligent thinkers to spread the word and keep information flowing. Good luck and keep going.

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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