Public Relations Officer: Job Duties and Requirements

Public relations officers require a fair amount of formal education. Learn more about the requirements, including degree programs and job duties, to find out if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Public relations officers may also be called public relations specialists or public information officers. These professionals craft positive public images for the organizations that employ them by gaining favorable media coverage. Public relations officers may also coordinate public events like exhibits and contests to promote their organizations. They typically hold bachelor's degrees in public relations or related fields.

Required EducationBachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*12% for public relations specialists
Average Salary (2013)*$63,020 for public relations specialists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public Relations Officer Job Duties

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that although job duties for public relations specialists are similar whether they work in the public or private sector, the target of their public relations efforts may vary (www.bls.gov). PR specialists who work for nonprofit organizations, political interest groups, government agencies or universities may target the general public, as well as specific groups, such as voters, donors or prospective students. Corporate public relations specialists, sometimes called corporate communications specialists or directors, are employed by private companies. They are often responsible for maintaining their companies' relationships with investors and customers, as well as the general public.

Media-Related Job Duties

O*Net Online explains that public relations officers' job duties typically revolve around the media (www.onetonline.org). They may field inquiries from journalists about their companies, participate in interviews on behalf of their companies or prepare company representatives to perform well in interviews and public appearances. They may also write or task others to write press releases about their companies' initiatives and accomplishments, and use their contacts in the media to secure press coverage.

Promotional Job Duties

O*Net Online explains that public relations officers may also design and execute promotional campaigns that involve direct communication with the community, consumers and shareholders. They may coordinate community events to foster goodwill, design public information campaigns to increase awareness about their companies and create informational materials for investors. Some public relations specialists also directly participate in the development of their companies' marketing strategies.

Public Relations Officer Job Requirements

The BLS states that entry-level public relations officer applicants typically hold four-year degrees in public relations or related fields like marketing, communications or journalism. Elective coursework in business, social science and creative writing may be helpful. Aspiring public relations officers may also benefit from membership in pre-professional societies like the Public Relations Student Society of America, and from participating in internships or corporate training programs.

Certifications

According to the BLS, there are no specific licensure requirements for public relations specialists, but certification may be helpful in landing a job. The Public Relations Society of America offers its members the Accredited in Public Relations professional designation (www.prsa.org). This credential, which is granted through the Universal Accreditation Board, involves a readiness review and a written examination.

The International Association of Business Communicators also offers the Accredited Business Communicator designation, which is applicable to the public relations field (www.iabc.com). In order to earn this credential, applicants must present a satisfactory portfolio and pass both oral and written examinations.

Employment Outlook & Salary

Employment of public relations specialists is predicted to increase by 12 percent from 2012-2022, according to the BLS, which is about as fast as the national average. In May 2013, the average salary for public relations specialists was $63,020.

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