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.