So what is public relations anyway? This is a frequent and frustrating question most public relation professionals get asked. As important as PR is to companies, not many understand the role of a public relations specialist. According to Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (PRSA, n.d.)
Still doesn’t ring a bell? Just keep reading. To help those uniformed individuals better understand, I’ve summarized all thing PR related.
What they do:
Everything! Yes, a big portion of PR is writing press releases, but that’s definitely not everything they take on. Many public relation specialists deal with social media, promotions, marketing, graphic design, and more!
Here is a list of job duties that public relation specialists handle according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (n.d):
- Write press releases and prepare information for the media
- Respond to information requests from the media
- Help clients communicate effectively with the public
- Help maintain their organization’s corporate image and identity
- Draft speeches and arrange interviews for an organization’s top executives
- Evaluate advertising and promotion programs to determine whether they are compatible with their organization’s public relations efforts
- Evaluate public opinion of clients through social media
Where they work:
There are a few different routes you can go into in PR, some of which include corporate, agency, and government.
Government: Yep, standing side by side with the big man…well kind of. Government public relation specialists, also referred to as press secretaries, manage campaigns and keep the public aware of government activities (Wynne, 2013.)
Corporate: Nike, Microsoft, Google, you get the point. Want to work for the big guns? Well then corporate PR is your thing. There are several different departments you can go down in corporate PR, and you’re only working for one, big company.
Agency: Probably the most common path for undergraduates, agency PR is the way to go. If you’re looking to gain vast amounts of experience and knowledge in a short amount of time, this is the best option. Unlike corporate PR, you’ll have multiple clients at once. Be careful though, this path often sees the most employee burnout.
How much they make:
As with all jobs, salary’s range based off of experience. A seasoned PR professional will most likely be making three figures, but a newbie won’t be making nearly as much. Here are the rates according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (n.d):
-Professional, scientific, and technical services $59,430
-Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 56,160
-State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 55,500
-Educational services; state, local, and private 52,260
-Healthcare and social assistance 50,300
How to become one:
The most obvious answer to this question is, GET A DEGREE! The second part of this answer is something that public relation specialists know well: Network! After listening to several (and I mean SEVERAL) PR pros talk about their experiences, there is always one recurring theme. Network, network, network!
Want to land that epic job working for that amazing company? Well, chances are so does everyone else. So how do you stand out from the crowd? The answer to this is of course to network. Who you know is everything when trying to land a job.
PR is a large industry with many different components to it. Although this article does not cover everything, hopefully you have a better understanding of PR basics.
BLS. (n.d.). Summary. Retrieved May 18, 2016, from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm
PRSA. (n.d.). About Public Relations. Retrieved May 18, 2016, from https://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined/#.Vz02DL4jWJ8
Wynne, R. (2013, September 4). Public Relations, Explained. Retrieved May 18, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwynne/2013/09/04/public-relations-explained/#77dc3f5421fe