How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

It takes creativity and a way with words to promote positive messaging about your brand’s goals and visions.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

Be a top-notch public relations specialist.

Relationships between organizations and the public are mainly based on trust, reputation, and credibility. If maintaining and strengthening those relationships through clear communication sounds appealing to you, you might want to learn how to become a public relations specialist.

The public image of an organization needs to be nurtured, protected, and even revolutionized to create and maintain trust between an organization and its audience. Public relations specialists establish and uphold their clients’ public image while creating relationships and answering requests.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% increase in public relations specialist jobs over the next 10 years, which is higher than the average occupational growth rate of 4%. Ready to learn more? Here’s how to become a public relations specialist and how to find jobs in public relations.

What Is Public Relations?

Public relations is the strategic communication process that maintains positive relationships between organizations and their public. So, what's the difference between public relations careers and those in related areas like publicity and advertising? Public relations focuses on communication with the public, while publicity focuses mostly on brand awareness. And while public relations is mostly concerned with obtaining earned media, advertising relies solely on paid, sponsored messages.

What Does a Public Relations Specialist Do?

Public relations specialists help to create the public face of a brand or company and manage messaging around the direction the company is taking, its goals, and its vision. What does this look like in the day-to-day life of a public relations specialist?

The typical duties of a public relations specialist include:

  • Building and preserving the image and identity of the organization.
  • Establishing and nurturing supportive relationships with consumers, members of staff, communities, and public interest groups.
  • Building public relations strategies to influence public opinion and promote products, services, and ideas.
  • Coaching clients in effective communication techniques to use with the public.
  • Writing press releases and responding to media requests.

To read more about the duties and responsibilities of public relations careers, check out Monster’s public relations job description.

Where Do Public Relations Specialists Work?

As a public relations professional, you have several different options when it comes to where you want to work. One of these, often preferred by those just starting out, is to get a job in a public relations firm or agency that has great clients and that gives you opportunities to learn and challenge yourself.

You can also work as an in-house public relations consultant at a brand or company rather than at an agency. Or, you may choose to freelance, where you’ll mostly help your clients with one-time projects.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

Most public relations jobs require you to have a bachelor’s degree. While a degree in public relations is certainly preferred, degrees in communications, journalism, marketing, English, or business are also common among public relations professionals. While some colleges and universities offer a public relations major, others offer a communications major with a concentration in public relations.

The most common courses you can expect to take while earning your degree in public relations are:

  • Communication writing.
  • Brand storytelling.
  • Media relations.
  • Ethics.

While you’re in college or right after graduation is the perfect time to search for public relations internships. Internships will give you valuable hands-on experience in the field, which will both show potential employers that you know the industry and give you insight into whether public relations is the right career for you.

If you’ve been in the industry for some time or want to shoot for a promotion, getting a master’s in public relations will definitely give you an advantage.

Public Relations Certification

Once you have your bachelor’s degree or have been working in entry-level public relations jobs for a few years, you might wonder if getting a public relations certification is an important part of how to become a public relations specialist. While organizations don’t require it, a certification in public relations can be a valuable tool for career advancement.

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) offers a few public relations credentials, including a Certificate in Principles of Public Relations for recent grads and an Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential for more seasoned public relations professionals that includes an exam and a panel presentation.

Public Relations Skills

Besides knowledge of the industry and terminology, there are a number of public relations skills you will need to master to be a top-notch public relations specialist, including:

  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills.
  • Familiarity with social media.
  • Research skills with great attention to detail.
  • Organizational skills, including being deadline conscious.
  • Expertise in consumer marketing.
  • Innovative thinking and the ability to conduct a creative brainstorm.
  • An understanding of your audience and how to reach them.

How Much Does a Public Relations Specialist Make?

Monster data shows that the median public relations specialist salary is $50,650. The lowest-earning specialists make around $35,000, while the highest-earning bring home more than $77,000 per year. Salary also depends on your industry: The business industry tends to pay the most, while educational services tend to pay less, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

You can look up the average salary for public relations specialists in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.

How to Find Public Relations Jobs

So, you learned how to become a public relations specialist, and now you’re probably curious to know how to snag public relation specialist jobs. The first step? A solid resume and cover letter.

As a communications expert, you probably know that first impressions are important. That’s even more true when applying to entry-level public relations jobs when you’re fresh out of school. Make your public relations resume shine by tailoring it to each job opportunity. Then, write an exceptional cover letter that captures your future employer’s attention, explaining why you would love to work for their organization and which innovative changes a public relations professional like you can bring to their team.

Once you’re ready to find the job of your dreams in PR, head to Monster’s list of public relations specialist jobs and start sending applications.

The BLS lists the following five states as having the most public relations specialist jobs:

The five U.S. metropolitan areas with the most public relations specialist jobs are:

Tired of Throwing Pitches in Front of the Mirror? Turn to Monster

If after reading about how to become a public relations specialist, you check all the PR boxes—superior writing and communication skills, organizational skills, and the ability to connect with an audience—it’s time to make your next move. Get noticed by recruiters and potential employers by uploading your resume to Monster for free.