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What Does a Public Relations Specialist Do?

Written by: Hilbert College   •  Feb 13, 2024
A Public Relations Specialist Gives a Speech.

What Does a Public Relations Specialist Do?

A strong public relations strategy is crucial for companies of all industries in today’s business world, as indicated in a 2020 study by Weber Shandwick which found that U.S. companies’ reputations contributed to 62% of their market value. With so much at stake for a company, it’s no wonder many companies invest in building and maintaining a positive public image. Whether it’s keeping an engaging and positive social media presence or resolving bad publicity, companies need specialists in public relations.

Individuals looking to capitalize on these needs and build a career developing and implementing campaigns to improve their clients’ public perception and reputation should consider becoming public relations specialists. Those interested in developing their skills to do what a public relations specialist does should consider the benefits of a degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies, that offers a well-rounded education.

Public Relations Specialist Job Description

Public relations specialists play a crucial role in shaping the public perception of their client’s organizations. Their job is to develop and execute communication strategies that help promote a positive image and build relationships with key stakeholders.

One of the primary tasks of a public relations specialist is to review promotional campaigns and other marketing materials to ensure they are on-brand and aligned with the client’s values and goals, often collaborating with graphic designers, copywriters and other creative professionals to develop compelling messages and visuals that resonate with the target audience.

Another key responsibility is to monitor and boost the client’s reputation through curated social media posts, engaging with the public through comments and inquiries and analyzing data to measure the impact of social media campaigns. Public relations specialists must be skilled at using various tools and platforms to engage with their client’s audience and build a loyal following.

In addition to social media, public relations specialists may also be responsible for organizing interviews and media spotlights for the leaders of their client’s organization. PR specialists require solid relationship-building skills and the ability to communicate effectively with journalists and other media professionals. They should articulate the client’s message clearly and persuasively while building trust and credibility with the media.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

Becoming a public relations specialist requires several key steps, such as earning an education, building up work experience and developing skills critical to the profession. By following these steps, individuals can establish a strong foundation for success in what a public relations specialist does.

Earn a Degree

Earning a degree is often the first step toward a career in public relations. While no specific degree is required to become a public relations specialist, many employers look for an education in communications, marketing or journalism. Another path is an education focusing on the importance of humanities or liberal arts, such as a liberal studies degree. 

How do liberal studies connect to what a public relations specialist does? The discipline covers a number of different subjects and works to train students on critical analysis skills. It builds foundational knowledge in areas such as sociology or political science, and this can help aspiring public relations specialists understand target audiences and how to attract them.

Develop Key Skills

Public relations specialists must possess a wide range of skills to be successful in their profession. Here are essential skills for anyone seeking a career in public relations:

  • Writing - Public relations specialists must be skilled writers to craft press releases, speeches and other materials that effectively communicate their client’s message.

  • Communication -They must communicate clearly and concisely with clients, colleagues and the media.

  • Organization - They will often manage multiple projects simultaneously, meet deadlines and keep track of essential details.

  • Problem-solving -They must think creatively to develop unique approaches to communicating their client’s message to the public, anticipating problems and quickly acting to solve them.

Gain Work Experience

What public relations specialists do requires a combination of communication skills, critical thinking skills and a deep understanding of media relations, marketing and branding. Those looking to become qualified for these roles will likely need work experience to show those skills in practice to employers. 

One way to gain experience is to pursue internships or entry-level positions with public relations firms or in-house communication departments. These opportunities can provide valuable exposure to the industry’s day-to-day operations and allow aspiring PR professionals to develop critical skills and build a professional network.

For example, an aspiring public relations specialist might seek an internship with a local nonprofit organization or a PR firm specializing in their area of interest, such as technology or health care. During this internship, they might assist with developing press releases, managing social media accounts and coordinating events. By taking on these responsibilities, the intern can gain hands-on experience and build a portfolio of work that demonstrates their skills and potential value.

Public Relations Specialist Salary and Job Growth

The median annual salary for public relations specialists is around $62,800 as of May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, this can vary heavily due to factors like experience and the industry that the position is in. 

Public relations specialists have a positive job growth outlook, with the BLS projecting an 8% growth in this career between 2021 and 2031, faster than the 5% average for all careers. The BLS bases this projection on companies’ continued need to respond to rapid, negative changes in their public images and the increased use of social media to appeal to the public, which is one facet of what a public relations specialist does daily.

Develop a Career as a Public Relations Specialist

Becoming a public relations specialist can be a fulfilling career path for those passionate about building and managing a company’s reputation. As companies continue to recognize public relations’ importance by investing in their public image and adapting to the ever-changing social media landscape, the demand for skilled public relations specialists will likely grow. 

Aspiring public relations specialists can position themselves for success in this exciting field by building the right skills, building career experience and earning an education. Those interested in learning how to start a career as a public relations specialist should consider the benefits of Hilbert College Global’s online Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies

Discover how you can learn to maintain and grow a company’s public image with Hilbert College Global.


Indeed, “How To Become a Public Relations (PR) Specialist in 6 Steps”

Indeed, “Public Relations Career Guide: Top Roles, Duties and Working in PR”

Indeed, “What Is Public Relations? What You Need To Know About a Career in PR”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Public Relations Specialists

Weber Shandwick, “The State of Corporate Reputation in 2020: Everything Matters Now”

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