Careers in Public Relations

Senior Project by Summer Cassel

The Necessities

  • Imagination, for coping with present problems and anticipating future ones.

  • Communication skills, with demonstrable competence in writing.

  • Personal confidence, for successful face-to-face contacts with individuals and groups.

  • Sensitivity to other people; both diplomacy and a more-than-ordinary ability to place oneself in the shoes of another are important in public relations work.

  • Organizing and planning ability, applied to oneself and others; as with many other occupations, managerial skills are invaluable for successfully climbing the public relations ladder.

The Journey Ahead

As a Public Relations Specialist, your main goal is to generate positive publicity for your client and enhance their reputation. It's your job to cultivate and maintain close and productive relationships with journalists, bloggers and opinion leaders. You'll be asked to create print and Web-based communications materials – which may include story pitches, press releases, Q-and-A interviews, presentations, video scripts and speeches – that are consistent with your client’s image and message. Other responsibilities range from acting as a company spokesperson for a variety of media inquiries and speaking directly to the press on behalf of your client (sometimes deflecting negative criticism), to preparing your client for press conferences, media interviews and speeches. Social media outreach has become an integral part of a PR specialist's job in recent years.

To get where you're going...

For a career in public relations you will need a college degree and work experience in the area you want to go into. Many who have enter this field have majored in public relations, marketing, journalism, communications, and advertising. Their experience generally comes from internships. Work in a field related to the employer's industry is also helpful.

Making that Money

Salaries for Public Relations Specialists are relatively low compared to other "creative" jobs. For example, a public relations specialist’s average annual wage is $61,980, compared to an architect's average wage of $78,690 and an art director's average wage of $94,260.The BLS reports the median annual wage for public relations specialists was $54,170 in 2012. The best-paid 10 percent in the field made approximately $101,030, while the bottom 10 percent made approximately $30,760. The highest-paid in the profession work in the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.