Public relations is an area of professional communication focused on engaging, influencing, and relationship building. According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
There’s an old saying: Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for. Public and private businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations rely upon public relations specialists to support operations and strategic planning. Every type of organization benefits from a solid PR strategy executed by skilled professional communicators.
Let’s explore four aspects of public relations work.
Public relations’ golden rule is show, don’t tell. The most important element of this field is developing relevant and engaging content. Sharing engaging stories of individuals who have benefitted from your product, program, or service is a popular tactic for building affinity for organizations.
Rather than focusing only on short-term advertising that may help generate leads, public relations is a long-term strategy to build consumer trust and confidence, which ideally translates to sales, likes, donations, or other expressions of loyalty, said Tara Payne, past president of Yankee Chapter, PRSA.
Research and Evaluation
In order to conduct purposeful campaigns designed to meet goals, it is essential to do research before and after campaigns are launched. This helps measure effectiveness. Otherwise, organizations make decisions based on limited perspectives.
Formative research helps professionals understand what stakeholders across various demographic, geographic, and psychographic groups believe or value and what they need to know. Evaluation research helps demonstrate effectiveness of campaigns.
Art and Technology
Creativity, communication, and relationship building will always be at the heart of public relations. However, many companies are turning to artificial intelligence to optimize outreach and evaluate PR campaigns.
Advances in technology include tools for data analysis, search engine optimization, and audience engagement. Keeping up with social media channel changes is also critical. This will include aspects like new channel features, emerging platforms, and algorithm changes.
Managing a public relations team or serving as counsel to a broader management team will come with many responsibilities. It will likely involve setting objectives, budgeting, hiring and orienting staff. Additionally, managers implement technology solutions and systems and oversee content creation to meet organizational goals.
Leaders consult on organizational policy decisions, courses of action, and executive communication. PR leaders serve as the point of contact for journalists, investors, government, and community members.
PRSA’s Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential is a certification designating leadership and knowledge of best practices in the evolving public relations field.
Public Relations Specialist Fast Facts
2021 Median Pay: $62,800 per year / $30.19 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree
Job Outlook, 2020-30:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 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.
Public Relations Specializations
• Corporate Communications
• Crisis Communications
• Executive Communications
• Internal Communications
• Investor Relations Communications
• Marketing Communications
• Integrated Marketing/Integrated Marketing Communications
• Media Relations
• Content Creation
• Social Media
• Reputation Management
• Brand Journalism
Public relations professionals utilize excellent communication skills, creativity, and relationship-building capabilities in the process of reaching key audiences to forward an organization’s goals and mission. There are so many channels for learning and growing in the field of professional communications.
– Rita Kondrath, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer and Director for Writing and Communications Programs at Granite State College
B.S. in Professional Communication
Our B.S. in Professional Communication prepares you to work in today’s complex information-based economy and media-driven culture. You’ll develop analytical thinking skills that will help you craft and deliver effective messages through written, spoken, and digital channels. Learn to use communication best practices to help organizations thrive.
Select a Concentration
Your concentration will help you customize your degree program to complement your career goals.
• Business and Strategic Communication
• Interpersonal and Organizational Communication
• Visual Communication and Social Media