This age-old question comes to fruition as you embark on your job search and have to pick what you want to be for at least the moment. Because you’ve landed here, I think it’s safe to say you want to be a public relations specialist or something very similar.
What is a public relations specialist?
A public relations specialist communicates with the public to gain and maintain a positive image for the client or company they represent.
Public relations specialists spread the work through media outlets using earned, owned, and paid media.
Public relations is an exciting, yet competitive industry that requires creativity, collaboration, and courage. There are many public relations specialist tips you can dive into once you get the job, but let’s start by talking about what exactly public relations specialists do.
If you’re here looking for something specific, feel free to jump ahead using the links below.
The duties of a public relations specialist are wide-ranging, so it often times becomes difficult to represent all of your skills on your public relations resume. Narrowing down the things you want to put on your resume is easiest when you know the job duties and responsibilities of the position for which you’re applying.
As a public relations specialist, you’ll be asked to write a lot. Things you should be ready to explain and know how to write are:
Internal communications; both print and digital
Aside from those duties, you’ll also be asked to form meaningful professional relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other media gatekeepers. You’ll interact with their social media accounts, invite them to press conferences, and pitch stories to them on a consistent basis, so forming these relationships early will be critical to your success as a public relations specialist.
If reaching out to strangers is not your thing, then I strongly recommend exploring another career path.
In juggling all of these things, you must always maintain a favorable public image for the client or organization you represent. You can do this by evaluating public opinion through social media monitoring software. This software helps you to listen, track and gather relevant information across all social media platforms you currently use at your company.
The duties of a public relations specialist vary per position, so be sure to read the specific job description multiple times so that you provide recruiters with the most concise and distinctive information about you.
The median salary of a public relations specialist in 2019 is… drumroll please, $60,000. I know money isn’t all that matters, but it’s definitely a driving force.
You can make the most as a public relations specialist in Washington D.C., San Francisco, California, and San Jose, California. So get packing because these areas pay public relations specialists between $86,000 and $100,000 according to U.S. News & World Report.
But not so fast.
These higher salaries are due to the high cost of living.
Being a public relations specialist is similar to being a Swiss Army Knife. Within one person there are multiple skills or tools that you use depending on the situation.
Building relationships is key to success in public relations. In order for your messages to be heard, you must form professional relationships with key players in the media so that they cover your stories in a favorable light.
When the press doesn’t cover the people or organization you represent in a positive way, then it’s time to problem-solve. This mostly involves crisis management, where you must respond quickly to criticism and clear the air no matter the problem.
Writing is woven through every aspect of being a public relations specialist. Previously mentioned as a main duty, written communication is a critical skill for outreach, reputation-building, and public-facing events.
As the person behind the image of a brand, you must be able to hold your own in front of C-suite executives and company stakeholders. Since they are the faces of a company, your job is to prepare them for anything that comes their way. In order to prepare these high-up individuals, you oftentimes have to present them the information they need to know.
Social media is everywhere. Now that companies communicate through these channels, the need for public relations specialists is growing. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be an 8.8 percent growth for public relations specialists between 2016 and 2026. That’s over 22,000 jobs!
Safe to say if you’re looking for confirmation that you’re entering a growing field, then you’re in a good spot being a public relations specialist.
So maybe being a public relations specialist isn’t for you, and that’s ok. There are more jobs that use similar skill sets such as advertising account executives, editors, event planners, fundraising managers, market research analysts, and many more.
There’s something out there for everyone and if you have what it takes to be a public relations specialist, then you’re already ahead of the curve.
So tell me about yourself
All that’s left to do is let your personality shine through during the interview process. You have the skills, can complete the duties, like the pay, and are comfortable with the job outlook. Being a public relations specialist isn’t for the faint of heart, but with drive and passion, you will succeed in any public relations job.
Deirdre O’Donoghue is a Content Manager at Nature's Fynd and a former Content Manager at G2. In her free time, you can find Deirdre fostering puppies or exploring the Chicago foodie scene. (she/her/hers)