Public relations specialists, sometimes referred to as communications specialists or media specialists, are responsible for maintaining a positive relationship between their organization and the public. They work on various types of projects, such as media, community, consumer, industry, and governmental relations; political campaigns; interest-group representation; conflict mediation; or employee and investor relations. They strive to understand the attitudes and concerns of consumers, employees, or other members of the public toward their organization. They also communicate the organization’s policies, activities, and accomplishments to these groups. They compose press releases, communicate with members of the media, organize speaking engagements, prepare speeches, plan conventions, and prepare reports and proposals. In government, public relations specialists inform the public regarding the activities of government and of individual representatives.
Public relations specialists need to be competitive, while also able to function well as a member of a team. They need to be good decision-makers, problem-solvers, and researchers. Their personality must be outgoing and confident, and they must have a strong knowledge of psychology and motivation. Other important qualities include initiative, creativity, sound judgment, and an aptitude for expressing thoughts in a clear and concise manner.
In 2002, public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $41,710. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $24,240, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $75,100. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of loan officers:
- Advertising and related services – $48,070
- Local government – 42,000
- Business, professional, labor, and political organizations – 39,330
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools – 36,820
Training and Education
No strict requirements exist for entry into public relations specialist careers. Some entry-level workers have a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, advertising, or communication. Others have a bachelor’s degree in another related field and experience in public relations through an internship. Internships have become an extremely effective way of obtaining a job as a public relations specialist. Some employers prefer candidates who have experience or a degree in a specific field, such as information technology, health, science, engineering, sales, or finance, along with skill and experience in communications. The U.S. Armed Forces can be a good place to gain experience in public relations. Membership in local chapters of the Public Relations Student Society of America or the International Association of Business Communicators can be an excellent way to gain experience and to network. Some large organizations provide on-the-job training programs for new entry-level employees. Public relations specialists with at least 5 years of experience can gain accreditation through either the Public Relations Society of America or the International Association of Business Communicators.
In 2002, public relations specialists held about 158,000 jobs. Most work in the advertising, health care and social assistance, educational services, and government industries. Others worked for communications firms, financial institutions, and government agencies. About 11,000 were self-employed.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of loan officers is expected to increase faster than the average. Companies are increasingly valued not only by their profits, but also by the quality of their relationship with the public. Recent corporate scandals have elevated the importance of image and public confidence. Opportunities will be best for those candidates with bachelor’s degrees in journalism, public relations, or advertising, and who combine this with a public relations internship.