The Public Relations Specialist: In Charge of Molding Communications

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Company XYZ is forced to notify consumers that they are recalling products because they have learned that lead paint was used during the manufacturing process...

After much controversy, public official A is forced to resign after admitting that he was involved in a lurid, and illegal, affair…

While these two scenarios may seem like they are worlds apart, they couldn’t have more in common. The outcomes of both will directly impact the views that the public has of both the company and the official, views that their respective public relations specialists continually strive to shape.

In order for an organization or company to succeed in this increasingly competitive and global marketplace, it must ensure that the individuals who are invested in the company champion its goals. To ensure this support, public relations professionals must generate positive publicity and make certain that the public views the company in a positive way. As such, the basic purpose of every public relations specialists job is to serve as an advocate for the company and help shape the company’s image in the eyes of the public.

Primary Job Functions of the Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists have several job responsibilities; chief among them is the oversight of relations with the media, the community, consumers, industry representatives, and the government. It is vital that these public relations professionals not only represent their companies to interest groups, in addition to managing employee and investor relations, but that they positively represent the companies and their points of view.

PR professionals in these positions are responsible for creating press releases and liaising with members of the media who have the ability to feature their clients’ organizations. Other duties may also include meeting with members of the public or organization representatives, making oral presentations, preparing annual reports, or planning conventions.

Current Job Market for Public Relations Professionals

According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 243,000 public relations specialists in the United States in 2006. The majority of these jobs were held in industries such as advertising, health care, educational services, and the government. Larger metropolitan cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago typically offer the largest numbers of these jobs.

Education and Job Prerequisites for the Public Relations Specialist

College degrees from four-year universities in the public relations, journalism, communications, and advertising fields are typically favored by hiring managers looking to fill public relations specialist positions.

While internships are highly regarded, especially if they occurred in the field in which the prospect is applying, they are not required. However, there are several personal attributes that hiring managers do look for. These include superb communication skills, both written and verbal, creativity, the ability to take initiative, superior problem solving skills, and the ability to work well in a team, as well as sound decision making and research skills. Accreditation by either the Universal Accreditation Board or the International Association of Business Communicators is also highly desired.

Compensation for the Public Relations Specialist

The earnings of a public relations specialist fluctuate depending on various factors; however, the median salary is approximately $47,000. That said, after earning a top position within the field, public relations specialists can make more than $89,000 annually. While PR is a competitive field, the outlook is also positive. By the year 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that it will have experienced more growth than any other field.
On the net:The Universal Accreditation Board

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