Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public Relations Specialists

public relations specialists image
Public relations specialists design media releases to shape public perception of their organization.
Quick Facts: Public Relations Specialists
2020 Median Pay $62,810 per year
$30.20 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2020 272,300
Job Outlook, 2020-30 11% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 31,200

Summary

What Public Relations Specialists Do

Public relations specialists create and maintain a positive public image for the clients they represent.

Work Environment

Public relations specialists work for a variety of organizations, including schools, media buyers, and professional associations. They usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, or business to enter the occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $62,810 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 29,200 openings for public relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for public relations specialists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of public relations specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about public relations specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Public Relations Specialists Do

public relations specialists image
Public relations specialists evaluate advertising and promotion programs.

Public relations specialists create and maintain a positive public image for the individuals, groups, or organizations they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their clients and to increase awareness of each client’s work and goals.

Duties

Public relations specialists typically do the following:

  • Write press releases and prepare information for the media
  • Respond to information requests from the media
  • Help clients communicate effectively with the public
  • Draft speeches and arrange interviews for a client's top executives
  • Evaluate public opinion of clients through social media
  • Evaluate advertising and promotion programs to determine whether they are compatible with their organization’s public relations efforts
  • Help maintain their organization’s image and identity

Public relations specialists, also called communications specialists and social media specialists, handle an individual’s, group’s, or organization’s communication with the public, including consumers, investors, reporters, and other media specialists. In government, public relations specialists may be called press secretaries and keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies.

Public relations specialists write press releases and contact people in the media who might print or broadcast their material. Many radio or television special reports, newspaper stories, and magazine articles start at the desks of public relations specialists. For example, a press release might describe a public issue, such as health, energy, or the environment, and what an organization does concerning that issue.

Press releases often are adapted for announcements on social media, in addition to publication through traditional media outlets. Public relations specialists are usually in charge of monitoring and responding to social media questions and concerns.

Public relations specialists are different from advertisers in that they get their stories covered by media instead of purchasing ad space in publications and on television.

Work Environment

public relations specialists image
Public relations specialists work in many different industries.

Public relations specialists held about 272,300 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of public relations specialists were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 13%
Advertising, public relations, and related services 12
Government 10
Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations 9

Public relations specialists work for a variety of organizations, including schools, media buyers, and professional associations. They usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel.

Work Schedules

Most public relations specialists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

public relations specialists image
Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree.

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have studied a particular field such as public relations, journalism, communications, or business.

Education

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, or business. Through such programs, students may produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates their ability to prospective employers.

Although it is not typically required to enter the occupation, professional certification is preferred by some employers hiring candidates for public relations specialist jobs.

Other Experience

Internships at public relations firms or in the public relations departments of other businesses may be helpful in getting a job as a public relations specialist.

Some employers prefer candidates who have experience in the field through a school newspaper, social media platforms, or blogs, or through a leadership position in school or in their community.

Important Qualities

Interpersonal skills. Public relations specialists deal with the public and the media regularly. They must be open and friendly in order to maintain a favorable image for their organization.

Organizational skills. Public relations specialists are often in charge of managing several events or communications at the same time, which requires excellent skills in coordinating arrangements.

Problem-solving skills. Public relations specialists sometimes must explain how a company or client is handling sensitive issues. They must use good judgment in what they report and how they report it.

Speaking skills. Public relations specialists regularly speak on behalf of clients or their organization. When doing so, they must be able to clearly explain the client’s or the organization’s position.

Writing skills. Public relations specialists must be able to write well-organized and clear press releases, speeches, and social media posts. They must be able to grasp key messages and write them in a succinct but engaging way.

Pay

Public Relations Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2020

Public relations specialists

$62,810

Media and communication workers

$61,310

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $62,810 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,350, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $118,210.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for public relations specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations $68,610
Government 67,590
Advertising, public relations, and related services 64,880
Educational services; state, local, and private 59,360

Most public relations specialists work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook

Public Relations Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Public relations specialists

11%

Media and communication workers

11%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 29,200 openings for public relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Organizations will continue to emphasize community outreach and customer relations as a way to maintain and enhance their reputation and visibility. Public opinion can change quickly, particularly because both good and bad news spread rapidly through the Internet. Consequently, public relations specialists will be needed to respond to news developments and maintain their organization’s reputation.

The use of social media also is expected to create opportunities for public relations specialists as they try to appeal to consumers and the general public in new ways. Public relations specialists will be needed to help their clients use social media effectively.

Employment projections data for public relations specialists, 2020-30

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Public relations specialists

SOC Code27-3031
Employment, 2020272,300
Projected Employment, 2030303,400
Percent Change, 2020-3011
Numeric Change, 2020-3031,200
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of public relations specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services.

Bachelor's degree $141,490
Advertising sales agents Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals.

High school diploma or equivalent $54,940
Editors Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Bachelor's degree $63,400
Market research analysts Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor's degree $65,810
Meeting, convention, and event planners Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Meeting, convention, and event planners arrange all aspects of events and professional gatherings.

Bachelor's degree $51,560
Public relations managers and specialists Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers direct the creation of materials that will enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.

Bachelor's degree $118,430
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.

See How to Become One $65,420
Writers and authors Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media.

Bachelor's degree $67,120

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Friday, October 15, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Public Relations Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm (visited December 22, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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