No matter who or what you're representing, your goal as a public relations specialist is simple, even if it's not always simply achieved: put your clients in the public spotlight and make them shine. This is a job built on excellent communication, writing and personal skills. You must be analytic, quick thinking and creative. Success depends on cultivating close relationships with media, bloggers and anyone else who has a platform that can be utilized to spread your message. "U.S. News & World Report" ranks the job at the top of its list of best creative jobs.
Creating and Presenting Content
You'll need sharp writing skills to create the materials -- press kits, press releases, web content, speeches, story pitches and presentations -- that create a true-to-the-message image for your client. You also need the poise to present them. You might edit, design or oversee the creation of materials and to make all aspects of communication consistent. The public relations specialist fields media calls, acts as the company spokesperson, arranges interviews and press conferences and prepares clients to speak for themselves. When negative news surfaces, PR specialists are called in to try for a positive spin.
Social Media Specialist
It's a brave new world for many old-school PR specialists. Ubiquitous social media mean you must be equally adept at tweeting and writing press releases. Staying relevant and keeping clients visible takes knowing how to use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest, blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds and Youtube thoughtfully. You must know how to integrate new technology into more traditional campaigns. And, this integration is key. "Social media cannot exist on its own," according to Marni Salup, founder of the Salup Group, a branding and marketing agency, writing for the Huffington Post. "Without using it along side other PR tactics you will be unable to build on your community and reap the potential benefits of fan-building."
Most public relations specialists have at least a bachelor's degree in journalism, public relations, communications, marketing or other related disciplines, and increasingly, the most desirable candidates in this competitive field come to the job market with graduate degrees. Hands-on internship experience is invaluable and can often be a direct doorway into entry-level positions. PRWeek named Georgetown University's Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications as the top program in 2012, followed by The Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
Job Outlook and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, projects 23 percent job growth for public relations specialists between 2010 and 2020, with 58,200 jobs to be filled. The BLS reports the 2010 the median annual wage was $53,190 with the top 10 percent earning about $96,880 and bottom 10 percent at around $30,860. "U.S News & World Report" in 2012 ranked the job 51 overall in its annual top 100 best careers in all fields.
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