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Job Profile: Public Relations

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description:

Widespread public relations services firms can influence how businesses, governments, and institutions make decisions. Often working behind the scenes, these firms have a variety of functions. In general, firms in public relations services advise and implement public exposure strategies. For example, a public relations firm might issue a press release that is printed in newspapers across the country. Firms in public relations services offer one or more resources that clients cannot provide themselves. Usually this resource is expertise in the form of knowledge, experience, special skills, or creativity; but sometimes the resource is time or personnel that the client cannot spare. Clients of public relations firms include all types of businesses, institutions, trades, and public interest groups, and even high-profile individuals. Clients are large and small for-profit firms in the private sector; State, local, or Federal Governments; hospitals, universities, unions, and trade groups; and foreign governments or businesses.

Public relations firms help secure favorable public exposure for their clients, advise them in the case of a sudden public crisis, and design strategies to help them attain a certain public image. Toward these ends, public relations firms analyze public or internal sentiment about clients; establish relationships with the media; write speeches and coach clients for interviews; issue press releases; and organize client-sponsored publicity events, such as contests, concerts, exhibits, symposia, and sporting and charity events.

National Median Salary:

In 2006, nonsupervisory workers in advertising and public relations services averaged $724 a week—significantly higher than the $568 a week for all nonsupervisory workers in private industry.

Public relations specialists in public relations services earn an average of $24.03/hour versus across all industries they earn $22.76/hour.

Education Requirements:

In public relations, employers prefer applicants with degrees in communications, journalism, English, or business. Some 4-year colleges and universities have begun to offer a concentration in public relations. Because there is keen competition for entry-level public relations jobs, workers are encouraged to gain experience through internships, co-op programs, or one of the formal public relations programs offered across the country. However, these programs are not available everywhere, so most public relations workers get the bulk of their training on the job. At some firms, this training consists of formal classroom education but, in most cases, workers train under the guidance of senior account executives or other experienced workers, gradually familiarizing themselves with public relations work. Entry-level workers often start as research or account assistants and may be promoted to account executive, account supervisor, vice president, and executive vice president.

Job Outlook:

Employment in the advertising and public relations services industry is projected to grow 14 percent over the 2006-16 period, compared with 11 percent for all industries combined. New jobs will be created as the economy expands and generates more products and services to advertise.