What is a Public Relations Specialist?

Public relations specialists are known under different names such as communications specialists and/or media specialists. Whatever the title happens to be, this individual is charged with a variety of responsibilities and reports to an array of bosses.

You can find public relations specialists working in government, nonprofits, as well as small to large companies. The responsibilities can sometimes vary depending upon whom they work for.For the government, the role is usually to let the public know about the different activities of a governmental office, department, or official. You often hear public relations specialists referred to as press secretary, public affairs officer, or information officer. In the nonprofit arena, the public relations specialist usually has a more expansive role that can range from writing press releases for distribution to news sources to drafting a donor appeal letter and arranging a public tour of the facility. Oftentimes, it includes coordinating and promoting a fundraising event, tournament and silent auction.

Other responsibilities could include the creation of the organization’s annual report. It often encompasses writing stories about clients who have benefitted from the organization’s services and putting together the nonprofit’s newsletter. It usually means working closely with the nonprofit’s fundraising staff to create a more donor-centric publication. Due to budget constraints at most nonprofits, the role can be extremely broad.

Some of the same duties common in the nonprofit sector often apply to the corporate sector as well. But they can also include preparing presentations for senior executives as well as seeking out and scheduling speaking engagements. Another area that they tend to focus on is media relations. Corporate public relations specialists often spend a great deal of time cultivating and nurturing relationships with journalists and others who can have a tremendous influence on public perception of the company and its products. One of the other big differences for public relations specialists in the corporate area is the promotion and branding of the company and/or its products to its main demographic and collaborating with their social media specialist toward that same end as well. In this capacity, they are also usually charged with tracking and responding to consumer comments, suggestions, and complaints.

Public relations specialists are often college graduates who have a degree in journalism, marketing or a related area. When reviewing applications, many employers also consider related internships and some communications experience. Most graduates are hired for entry-level positions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most public relations specialists work at public relations or advertising firms. BLS was forecasting strong competition for these jobs with a growth of 6% between 2014 to 2024.Here’s some interesting and encouraging news. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked public relations specialists #4 for Best Creative and Media Jobs in its 2019 ranking of best jobs.

The ranking considered such factors as median salary, employment rate, 10-year growth volume, 10-year growth percentage, future job prospects, stress level, and work-life balance.