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PR Specialist Duties and Responsibilities

No two PR specialists are exactly alike, as specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:

Develop PR Strategies Working with marketing teams and management, PR specialists help craft a PR strategy that starts with determining the message the company wants to convey to its audience. After determining who needs access to specific information, PR specialists plan how to use traditional and digital media to promote the company and keep the public informed.

Create Company Communications Writing press releases about new products and developments, giving speeches to the media, posting updates on social media sites, and creating internal communications for employees are all part of a PR specialist's job. They also may update the company's website, create videos, write letters, and make product brochures.

Track Media Campaigns PR specialists keep track of the company's media campaigns and use performance metrics to monitor how successful the company's PR activities are. They use analytics software to look for trends, monitor social media websites for customer feedback, and keep an eye on media coverage to determine if the company needs to respond to any issues, provide clarification, or share updates.

Develop Media Partnerships Increasing the company's exposure and having more channels for distributing materials require PR specialists to develop strategic partnerships with the media. PR specialists look for partners locally, nationally, and online that can expose the company to the intended audience and give it more credibility in the industry.

Plan and Attend Events Press conferences, media preview events, local business events, and industry conferences offer networking and marketing opportunities. PR specialists help companies determine which events to attend and help coordinate activities for promoting the company's brand, fostering new partnerships, and offering informational workshops or panels.


PR Specialist Skills and Qualifications

Creative in how they portray the company in the media, successful PR specialists are skilled in all areas of communication and are comfortable using technology. Companies seek PR specialists with a bachelor's degree, PR or journalism work experience, relevant work samples, and the following skills:
  • Marketing - PR specialists use their knowledge of marketing principles to conduct research on customers' needs and promote the company and its products
  • Writing - since they create press releases, speeches, social media posts, and news articles, PR specialists have strong writing skills, use proper grammar and spelling, and adapt their writing for different audiences and formats
  • Social media - whether posting news releases on the company blog or writing updates on Facebook, PR specialists know how to use various social media websites to share important news and manage the company's reputation
  • Public speaking - speaking with the press and giving announcements through video and audio require strong public speaking skills
  • Interpersonal skills - since they have to form and maintain positive and productive relationships with the media, PR specialists need to appropriately interact with media professionals and respond on the company's behalf in a variety of situations
  • Problem-solving skills - determining how to respond to negative press and handle emergencies requires a problem-solving approach

PR Specialist Education and Training

Most PR specialists have a bachelor's degree in communications, PR, or journalism. These majors usually include courses in PR strategy, communication ethics, writing for the media, marketing, strategic communication, and research. Students often complete written projects to add to their portfolios and do internships at media organizations or public relations firms. A master's degree in PR can help individuals who want to advance to PR director or communications manager positions later in their careers. Common topics for these graduate programs include reputation management, crisis communication, social media practices, communication design, and leadership.

PR Specialist Salary and Outlook

PR specialists earn a median income of $59,300 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The 10th percentile of PR specialists make about $32,800, and wages exceed $112,200 for the highest earners. Additional benefits companies often offer include retirement plans, paid vacation days, and medical, dental, and vision insurance plans. Since companies need to share their news through traditional media outlets and social media, PR specialists can expect average job growth at a 9-percent rate through 2026. Competition is strong for this popular field, especially for jobs in large companies. Aspiring PR specialists may find a master's degree and internship experience helpful for finding a position more easily.

Helpful Resources

If you're interested in learning more about becoming a PR specialist, check out these helpful career resources:

Public Relations Society of America - this PR organization provides networking opportunities, job boards, and professional growth resources for its 22,000-plus members. Members can join numerous online webinars, chat on discussion forums, read industry publications, and find opportunities to get recognized in the field

Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time - having won Emmy Awards and founded a media group, author Bill McGowan uses his experience to help PR professionals communicate their companies' messages clearly and persuasively. He offers some guided principles on handling situations gracefully, including how to respond in delicate situations

Public Relations and Communications Professionals - nearly 300,000 PR and communications professionals network in this LinkedIn group associated with the Bay Area's Lighthouse Public Affairs firm. Members can also find job opportunities here

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly - designed for PR professionals, marketers, business owners, and others who need to advertise their companies, this book shows professionals how to use traditional media (such as press releases) as well as the internet to spread company awareness. It offers tips on successful PR practices and uses case studies to show how famous companies have used these methods

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