Public Relations Jobs | Publicity Careers
Page updated 5/16/2015
Public relations specialists create a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals.
Public relations specialists, also called communications specialists and media specialists, handle an organization’s communication with the public, including consumers, investors, reporters, and other media specialists. In government, public relations specialists may be called press secretaries. In this setting, workers keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies.
Public relations specialists draft press releases and
contact people in the media who might print or broadcast
their material. Many radio or television special
reports, newspaper stories, and magazine articles start
at the desks of public relations specialists. For
example, a press release might describe a public issue,
such as health, energy, or the environment, and what an
organization does with regard to that issue.
In addition to publication through traditional media outlets, press releases are increasingly being sent through the Internet and social media.
Public relations specialists are different from advertisers in that they get their stories covered by media instead of purchasing ad space in publications and on television.
Public relations specialists held about 229,100 jobs in 2012. The industries that employed the most public relations specialists in 2012 were as follows:
Public relations specialists usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel. Typical public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.
Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Employers prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.
Education Requirements for Public Relations
Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. Through such programs, students produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates their ability to prospective employers.
Public Relations Training
Entry-level workers typically begin by maintaining files of material about an organization’s activities, skimming and retaining relevant media articles, and assembling information for speeches and pamphlets. After gaining experience, public relations specialists begin to write news releases, speeches, articles for publication, or carry out public relations programs.
Internships at public relations firms or in the
public relations departments of other businesses can be
helpful in getting a job as a public relations
Some employers prefer candidates that have experience communicating with others through a school newspaper or a leadership position in school or in their community.
The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $54,170 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,760, and the top 10 percent earned above $101,030.
Most public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.
Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Organizations will continue to emphasize community outreach and customer relations as a way to maintain and enhance their reputation and visibility. Public opinion can change quickly, particularly because both good and bad news spreads rapidly through the Internet. Consequently, public relations specialists will be needed to respond to news developments and maintain their organization’s reputation.
Increased use of social media also is expected to increase employment for public relations specialists. These media outlets will create more work for public relations specialists as they try to appeal to consumers and the general public in new ways. Public relations specialists will be needed to help their clients use these new types of social media effectively.
Because many college graduates apply for the limited amount of public relations positions each year, candidates can expect strong competition for jobs. Candidates can expect particularly strong competition at advertising firms, organizations with large media exposure, and at prestigious public relations firms.
CITATION: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Public Relations Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm
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