What is a Public Relations Specialist?
A public relations specialist is a person or a firm that manages the public image of a business, brand, person, or entity.
Public relations management is the long-term planning and execution of maintaining a good public perception. Public relations specialists manage perception with intelligent storytelling on print, electronic, and social media.
Pro Tip: Here is a step-by-step guide on how to tell a compelling brand story
A PR specialist is generally the head of media communication in an organization. The PR specialist analyzes news about the client, writes press releases, newspaper articles, and blogs, attends PR events, and launches PR campaigns.
Many times, public relations specialists also work for long-term goals for their clients.
For example, if a business wants to attract a new market segment that doesn’t currently buy from it, the business will hire a PR specialist to build a relationship between its products and the target market segment
What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Public Relations Specialist?
A public relations specialist’s duties include;
- Handle media communications for company, brand, or product
- Answer the information requests from the media
- Maintain a good image of the business in the public eye
- Facilitate communication with customers and market
- Write speeches for the community events
- Arrange interviews for the top management and prepare them for the interview
- Work with the advertising and marketing department to create a cohesive narrative
- Collect and evaluate the public opinion of the business, brand, or product with surveys, polls, feedback, etc.
- Build media kits
Public Relations Specialist Salary?
As per US Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2021, the median salary for public relations specialists was $62,800 per year. The employment rate was 2.7% and the total number of jobs was 272,300 in 2020.
Education Requirement and Qualifications for Public Relations Specialists
You will need a college degree in communication, media studies, English, or business. Though a college degree is not necessary, you’ll have easier entry into the market with it.
Most public relations experts get training on the job. If you are in college, take part in student activities or work for the student union. This experience will help you grow quickly at your PR specialist job.
At the start, your job will be to organize files, research, and assist the PR team. After some experience, you’ll be assigned for writing press releases and organizing community events.
It is better to work for a small firm at the start as you’ll work on many tasks and build your worldview about the job. Whereas, you are restricted to only one work area at a big firm.
Think of your first job as an internship to learn quickly and make the switch when a good opportunity appears.
How to Become a Public Relations Specialist
You’ll need some hard skills and some soft skills to succeed as a public relations specialist. Hard skills are teachable and measurable; soft skills are interpersonal and can’t be measured.
Communication Skills / Speech
Your communication skill forms the basis of your successful PR specialist career. If you can communicate well, you are on strong footing.
As a PR specialist, you’ll need to write a lot. You’ll be writing press releases, and speeches for leaders for community events, and writing narratives for the marketing & advertising department.
Start improving your writing by taking classes or writing blogs on public websites like Medium, etc. Good writing takes time, you can’t learn it in a day.
You’ll need to learn to listen with an aim of responding well. As a PR specialist, you can’t just hear everything and respond without understanding.
As the old Chinese legend goes, you’ll learn to hear the unheard to achieve your PR goals.
Interpersonal / Soft Skills
The interpersonal skills needed for a PR specialist include:
Invest your time and resources in improving these interpersonal skills.
Media Monitoring Knowledge
Media monitoring is when you listen to electronic, print, and social media to see who is talking about what.
When you are well aware of the media happenings, you can spot PR opportunities, contact journalists, and do effective public relations.
Organizing yourself is important for you as a PR specialist. You’ll plan, implement, and manage PR campaigns. Also, you’ll keep track of all work and schedule everything to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Strategic thinking is going beyond the immediate future for achieving long-term goals. Since good PR is long-term and you’ll need to work on it consistently, being a strategic thinker will help you grow at your job.
Simply put, media relations are your connections with anchors, producers, journalists, and other decision-makers in the media who can publish your content. Media relations help in placing your PR content in the media.
Job Outlook for Public Relations Specialist
The job outlook is bright for a public relations specialist. As the BLS data shows, the employment for PR specialists will grow by 11% for the 2020-2030 decade, This growth projection is higher than the average growth projections for all industries.
Over the decade, the expected job openings per year are 29,200. As happens in any industry, some employment opportunities are because of people retiring or switching careers.
Public relations specialists work in the office. They may work for institutions, businesses, media buyers, and politicians. They may have to travel for community meetings, media meetups, or for delivering speeches, etc.
PR specialists work classic 9-5 with frequent overtime and many work weekends. Their scope of work is mostly unspecified and requires them to walk the extra mile to achieve PR goals.
Public Relations Specialist Job Description Sample
Here is a sample public relations specialist job description. You can evaluate yourself to industry standards and make a growth path for getting a rewarding PR specialist job.
Abcd Corp is a reputed PR firm in the area. We have high ratings on Glassdoor and Indeed. We are looking for hiring a Public Relations Specialist whose stories are newsworthy and who can create a narrative and further our brand story.
If you are a self-starter with strategic thinking and an eye for detail, grow your career with us.
Responsibilities for Public Relations Specialist
- Write press releases, draft pitches and case studies, research and develop whitepapers and media summaries
- Build and maintain contacts with media
- Professional and timely management of media requests for information or response on a topic
- Create and pitch news, stories, content, and other ideas to the media about the business
- Build a brand image with cohesive communication on all fronts
- Track and measure media coverage for insights for the future PR campaigns
- Arrange press interviews for key leaders of the company
Qualifications for Public Relations Specialist
- College degree in communication, public relations, English, journalism, or business.
- At least 3 years of experience working in the PR industry
- Top-notch organization skills for tracking, recording, and measuring PR campaigns
- Effective time management and project management skills
- Knowledge about different public relations programs
- Ability to communicate well orally and in writing
- Well-versed with Microsoft Office suite and Google Workplace suite
- Proven record of developing, implementing, and executing PR campaigns
Job Satisfaction of the Public Relations Specialists
CareerExplorer surveyed public relations specialists and found them among the bottom 31% of the employees. Most people are unhappy in their PR specialist roles
Public relations specialists rates their job satisfaction at 3.1 / 5.
The PR specialists were asked if they were happy with the salary, found meaning in their job, whether the job was fit for their personality, whether the work environment was good, and skills utilization. Here is how they responded to each question:
- Salary, 2.9 /5. Unhappy
- Finding meaning at the job, 2.7 /5, unhappy
- Personality fit for the job, 3.7 / 5, mostly happy
- Work environment, 3.4 /5, mostly happy
- Skill Utilization at the job, 3.1 /5. Mostly happy
Difference between Marketing Manager and Public Relations Specialist
In small firms, marketing and PR is almost interchangeable. The difference between marketing managers and public relations specialists becomes more apparent for big brands and corporations.
However, when you look at the customer journey of a big brand like Ben & Jerry’s, you’ll notice the difference in PR and marketing.
A typical customer journey has 4 stages:
- Know, Like, Trust (KLT)
Public relations handle awareness and KLT, marketing attracts leads and makes sales.
Read Later: Sales toolbox in 2022.
Public relations is far-reaching while marketing is focused on short-term goals for business growth. The return over investment (ROI) is measurable in marketing but not in public relations.
Pro Tip: If you want to calculate your ROI for a marketing campaign and to find out the value of each lead, you can use our marketing ROI calculator.
How do PR specialists help you grow your business?
Here are 5 ways public relations can help businesses grow.
- PR helps you reach new markets
- PR Increases awareness and increases traffic to the website and your brick-and-mortar location
- PR does wonders for SEO
- PR establishes your credibility
- PR is cheaper than advertising or marketing
Famous PR Experts
- Dave Senay, president, and CEO of Fleishman-Hillard
- Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman
- Elliot Schrage, VP of communications/public policy at Facebook
- Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Obama
- Jon Iwata, SVP of marketing and communications at IBM
- Beth Comstock, SVP and CMO at GE
- Rob Flaherty, CEO of Ketchum
- Donald A. Baer, president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller
- Susan Gilchrist, chief executive at Brunswick Group
- Jack B. Dunn IV, CEO, and president of FTI Consulting
- Christopher Graves, global CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
- Jack Martin, global chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton Strategies
- Olivier Fleurot, CEO of MSLGROUP
- Eric Dezenhall of Dezenhall Resources
- Stephen Huvane & Simon Halls, founders of Slate PR