FAQ: What Does a Public Relations Officer Do?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 14, 2021

Brands often hire public relations officers to spearhead their interactions with consumers and media professionals. The profession may require an undergraduate education and experience handling campaigns and building reputations. Learning about a career in public relations can help you decide if it interests you. In this article, we define the responsibilities of a public relations officer, discuss the credentials the role may require and offer salary insights, projected outlook and details about the work environment.

What does a public relations officer do?

A public relations officer is a professional who manages all external communications on behalf of an organization or individual. Their goals at work are to maintain a positive public image of the client and spread information about the client's brand, including products, services and special events. A public relations officer is also a leader who supervises a team of specialists to monitor the client's perception among its key audiences. Here's a list of their typical responsibilities:

  • Writing, approving and distributing press releases to media professionals

  • Overseeing promotional campaigns to raise brand awareness and restore the client's reputation

  • Adding current details to communications materials, including social media content, brochures and newsletters

  • Identifying opportunities to partner with brands and receive sponsorships

  • Reviewing online discussions and news articles about the client

  • Preparing public statements for the client during emergency situations

  • Working as the client's spokesperson for press conferences

  • Staying informed about patterns in the industry

  • Compiling public relations activities into comprehensive reports

  • Communicating progress to upper management

Related: Public Relations: Everything You Need To Know About Working in PR

What are the requirements for becoming a public relations officer?

Employers may have specific standards for public relations officers, including their education, work experience and skills. Here's a list of requirements that can help you prepare for the career:

Education

The minimum education requirement for public relations officers is a bachelor's degree in communications, public relations or journalism. The degree often takes four years to complete. Students can gain exposure to the media industry, including how professionals circulate and promote information to the public. They can also learn how to write for different media, including websites, news broadcasts and social media platforms. The coursework may train students to respond to public relations crises and research developments in the field. They may receive opportunities to attend professional conferences and learn how to navigate the post-graduation job market.

Although it's not required, some candidates may pursue a master's degree in communications or public relations. It can enable them to advance their careers more quickly and negotiate higher salaries with employers. Programs for advanced degrees may take between one to two years to complete.

Related: What Is Public Relations? What You Need To Know About a Career in PR

Work experience

Companies may require aspiring public relations officers to have one to five years of experience in the media industry. Professionals often work as interns, where they learn from experienced specialists and contribute to a company's workflow for the duration of a college semester. Internships can also make them eligible for entry-level positions in the field, such as a public relations coordinator or communications specialist. Other related professions include social media coordinator and communications assistant. Participating in campaign and client management can boost their qualifications for the role of a public relations officer later in their careers.

Read more: 17 Types of Public Relations Jobs

Skills

Public relations officers use hard and soft skills to fulfill their job duties. Here are examples of their technical abilities:

  • Research: Before interacting with the public, PR professionals may conduct research to gather updated information about the brands they represent and their competitors. They can recognize credible sources, analyze data effectively and apply their research findings to spearhead informed campaigns.

  • Copywriting: Public relations officers may write the words that appear on brochures, social media posts and press releases. With copywriting skills, they can adhere to their client's style guides for external communications and write in ways that appeal to their target audiences.

  • Content creation: Content creation skills can include photography, video editing and graphic design, which appear in media campaigns and communications materials. Public relations officers can identify the interests of their key audiences and incorporate color schemes, logos and slogans that are consistent with their clients' brands.

  • Project management: Promotional campaigns and media relations are typical projects that public relations officers manage. They can delegate tasks to the specialists on their teams, establish and maintain organizational budgets and evaluate the successes of their initiatives.

  • Media management: Knowing how the media industry works enable public relations officers to attract positive publicity to their clients' brands. For example, they may send press releases inviting local journalists to air news packages about the upcoming releases of products and services.

  • Public speaking: At press conferences or special events, public relations officers may speak to represent the interests of their clients. They understand how to give confident speech deliveries that maintain the attention of their audiences and communicate essential information clearly.

Here are examples of their soft skills:

  • Analytical thinking: When public relations crises arise, professionals use analytical thinking to assess the situations and devise helpful solutions. They can lead their teams and deliver public messages with a sense of urgency.

  • Interpersonal communication: Public relations officers often build relationships with their clients and media professionals, which enables them to lead successful campaigns and generate publicity. They use interpersonal communication skills, such as active listening, to foster trust, attract clients and collect important information.

  • Adaptability: Work schedules for public relations officers may look different each day, depending on media activities and client needs. With adaptability, professionals can tweak their approaches and accept changes in their environment while still meeting their employers' expectations.

  • Time management: Campaigns may have strict deadlines, and it can be essential for public relations officers to publish brand information when trends are still relevant and consumers are speaking about them. Time management allows them to submit quality work and balance activities for multiple projects at once.

  • Organization: Organized public relations officers can thrive in fast-paced work environments, where they can track their progress on their tasks and complete several assignments in one day. For example, they may devote one hour to campaign research and another two hours to client meetings before appearing at press conferences.

Read more: Essential Public Relations Skills and How To Improve Them

Where does a public relations officer work?

Public relations officers can work in diverse professional environments. Here are some examples:

  • Internal communications department: Professionals can manage the public image of one organization that also employs them. For example, if they're the public relations officer for a technology company, then they may promote products, hire influencers and organize trade shows for that specific company.

  • Public relations agency: Agencies often have multiple clients, which makes public relations officers responsible for working with different companies and individuals at once. For instance, they may create social media content for a beauty brand, attend a press conference for a professional athlete and coordinate a fundraising gala for a nonprofit organization all in one week.

  • Independent: Public relations officers may also work as independent contractors, where they establish the rates of their communications services and build a clientele of their own. Their work schedules may resemble those who work at agencies, except they are not traditional employees.

What is the salary for a public relations officer?

The average salary of a public relations officer is $54,590 per year. If you're interested in the role, then it may be helpful to explore the factors that can influence your earning potential. They include:

  • Work experience: Your yearly earnings may increase the longer you work as a public relations officer. For instance, you may have a higher salary in the 20th year of your career than you did in the third year.

  • Location: The city and state where you want to work may have specific costs of livings, which can affect the salaries that employers offer. For example, a public relations officer that works in a metropolitan area may earn more money than a counterpart who works in a small town.

  • Employer: Since the work environments of public relations officers are diverse, their employers can dictate their earning potential. A professional who represents a major corporation may yield a greater income than a peer who works for a local library.

Related: 20 Career Options That Support the job of Public Relations

What is the job outlook for a public relations officer?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the public relations specialist occupation may increase by 11% between 2020 and 2030, which is more than the average. It attributes the trajectory to professionals entering retirement or transitioning to other industries. The availability of PR jobs in your area may depend on its specific job market and the companies or individuals you want to represent. It can be helpful to research employment opportunities to determine which positions can help you achieve your career goals.

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