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What is a Public Relations Specialist?

By J. Beam
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A public relations specialist is an individual who works for a company handling and organizing many functions that build and maintain strong relationships with the public. Someone in this job may be given other titles, such as communication specialist, press secretary, information officer, PR person, or media specialist, but his or her primary duty is to handle public communication for the company or organization that he or she works for.

Businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and hospitals all rely on public relations specialists to maintain positive relationships with communities, investors, public interest groups, the media, their employees, and the general public. Examples of tasks that this person is responsible for include managing community and media functions, consumer relations, and conflict resolution. One very specific role that her or she may fill is the creation of press releases and the development of media relationships to make information about a company or organization public.

Depending on the company or organization, a PR specialist may be required to work on site, off site, or travel. Hours can also vary depending on the working environment, especially when an emergency or crisis is possible. For example, high-profile companies may come into negative light for any number of reasons and they rely on their public relations departments to perform “damage control” quickly and efficiently.

Experience and education requirements vary depending on the nature of the business or organization. The education required of public relations specialists may include a degree in public relations, communication, journalism, or advertising. It's also important for this person to have the ability to understand the public and relate to the public’s role in the success of a given business or concept. There are several professional organizations for PR people, including the Public Relations Society of America, whose membership requirements may also vary.

In addition to working for a specific company, many public relations specialists may choose to operate their own business as a consultant or freelance for several companies or organizations.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon993397 — On Nov 11, 2015

I am studying public relations and I recommend reading the book by Dennis L. Wilcox called Public Relations Writing & Media Techniques. You can answer many of your questions.

By clippers — On Oct 03, 2012
What is the average salary of a public relations specialist working at say, a mid sized PR firm?

I have done some PR work in the past and I have a background in communications. I have been thinking of switching jobs and I have seen a few listings for PR stuff here in St. Louis. None of these jobs lists the salary though. Any idea what I could expect?

By summing — On Oct 03, 2012

One thing to remember about public relations careers is that they can't be outsourced and they can be replaced by a robot. There is some real job security there.

By Belted — On Oct 02, 2012

I had a friend who worked as a public relations specialist for a large hospital in Colorado.

She said the job was a lot harder and more stressful than you would expect. In general, no one cares when you have good news and the bad news brings on a media firestorm. They had a few high profile instances during her tenure there and she was one of the people that had to cool down the situation.

She is no longer at that job and I don't think she misses it for a second.

By anon152739 — On Feb 15, 2011

I want to know what are three traditional roles of a public relations specialist?

By anon135636 — On Dec 19, 2010

@praxy29: Yeah and while their at it why don't they just do your damn presentation as well. Do your own research!

By anon64750 — On Feb 09, 2010

i wanted to know that who is public relations officer and what are the qualities required to become a good public relations officer?

By praxy29 — On Jan 30, 2010

I am a MBA student, I need to know about structure and functions of public relations. If you have presentations on above topic please send to me.

By terryb56789 — On Nov 05, 2008

i need your help in identifying some ethical concerns in public relation.

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