Public Relations Overview: Public relations specialists get important information about their company to the media, investors, clients and the general public. They also respond to outside inquires for information from these parties. Public relations specialists may concentrate on a certain area, such as:
- Media Relations
- Investor Relations
- Client Relations
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Education: A bachelor's degree is expected. Coursework in public relations, journalism and/or communications may be helpful. Experience as a working journalist, print or electronic, can be even more valuable. Additionally, education and/or work experience in the financial field, especially in one or more of the firm’s lines of business, adds vital background knowledge.
Certification: There is no formal certification required for public relations careers. However, excellent communications skills and people skills are crucial to being effective on the job. Public relations specialists must write and speak effectively, have excellent powers of persuasion, and demonstrate personal credibility.
Duties and Responsibilities: Public relations specialists write press releases and contact people in the media with the object of getting the company's story told. They also are involved in developing programs and events to promote the company and its agenda, including community events and speeches by executives. Public relations people may be charged with drafting these speeches.
Typical Schedule: Public relations specialists must deal with tight deadlines, and heavy pressure. Work schedules are often long and unpredictable, dictated by breaking news and unforeseen circumstances. In crisis situations, public relations specialists can be constantly on call, sometimes for extended periods. Depending on the job and the employer, travel may be required, as well as appearances at events outside regularly business hours.
What's to Like: Public relations is often a fast-paced exciting field, with a discernible impact on the firm. It also gives its practitioners a high degree of visibility both inside and outside the firm. In particular, public relations specialists often have close interactions with senior executives on an ongoing basis.
What's Not to Like: The pressures of a job in public relations can be overwhelming for some, especially the need to be constantly on call, and not just in crisis situations.
Salary Range: Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual compensation for public relations specialists was about $53,000 as of May 2006, with the top 10% earning over $89,000.