press_releaseIt happens pretty much every day – probably multiple times a day. A company tweets a slogan they don’t realize is a vulgar slang term; a celebrity makes an insensitive joke in an interview; a politician gets caught in a scandal. Who comes to the rescue? A Public Relations Specialist.

Public Relations Specialists run campaigns that influence the public, making sure their clients have a positive image or good reputation. The Public Relations Specialist’s primary role is coordinating companies’ relationship with the public, protecting their client’s reputation, and putting a human face on companies and agencies that can seem too big to be personal.

Do you have a trustworthy face? A smooth attitude? Well, here’s how you become a Public Relations Specialist.

Education

Any college degree at the bachelor level should do. Basically you need solid literacy skills – strong reading and writing, and a good sense of how to use rhetoric and communication. A broad education is actually best. If you can’t find Public Relations as your degree major the following will suffice:

  • Journalism
  • English
  • Communications
  • American Studies
  • Cultural Studies

Job Expectations

In general, there are two kinds of Public Relation positions:

Public Relations Specialists usually provide direct service with public and contact with media, including everything from press conferences to press releases. When working for government agencies, the title is usually Press Secretary. In this position, you may have to explain policy in this setting, and speak directly to the press on behalf of the agency, which means a grounding in political science or public policy would be helpful.

Public Relations Managers work in a managerial or administrative role over a team of specialists. These professionals foresee whole campaigns and put the right people on the right jobs, while making sure the campaign stays focused and consistent.

Positions in public relations ofter begin with internships with a public relations agency or the PR wing of an organization, such as a corporation, nonprofit, or government agency. An internship helps you develop contacts and experience for when you hit the job market.

Some PR people work for large firm and are hired out and act as consultants for their speciality while others work for the actual industry company or organization.

Acting as a company’s spokesperson, Public Relations Specialists:

  • conduct media interviews (Q&A’s)
  • handle social media (Facebook,Linked In, Twitter, Pinterest)
  • write press releases
  • prepare speeches

It’s the job of the PR Specialist to keep an open line of communication between their clients and the public. Obviously, much public relations today takes place in social media, so today’s specialists should be well versed in pop culture and current events. You must know how to spin bad press into not-so-bad press (deflect negative criticism) and, in these days of immediate feedback, be able to give a convincing apology.

Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS), PR specialists employment growth is expected to grow 12% between 2012 and 2022. In those years we should see 27k new jobs filled in this field. That’s some pretty positive statistics! We don’t need PR for PR’s!

The BLS site also reports that the median wage for Public Relations Specialists was $54,170 in 2012. On the high end we see salaries at just over $101k, while the low was approximately $30k.