How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
May 8, 2020

FREE Trial with Benzinga Pro happening right now!

A career as a public relations specialist is both challenging and rewarding. You have a chance to create, re-establish or preserve the image of your employer or clients you serve while you earn a comfortable salary. 

This guide shows you how to become a public relations professional and put your communication skills to good use. 

Best Online Universities for Becoming a Public Relations Specialist

  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • The University of Memphis Global

Best Courses for Becoming a Public Relations Specialist

Public Relations Specialist Overview

What do public relations specialists do? How much can you earn and what are the job prospects? Is a degree required? These are all valid questions to consider as you evaluate whether this is the right opportunity for you. 

Job Description

As a public relations specialist, you’ll help develop and manage the public perception of your company or client. Roles and responsibilities include: 

  • Creating strategic media releases, social media posts and other forms of digital and print press for dissemination
  • Analyzing current and future campaigns to confirm they align with the company or client’s PR-related goals, mission and objectives
  • Responding to media inquiries
  • Drafting speeches for top executives
  • Scheduling interviews with vital stakeholders

Depending on your employer, you may work in an office setting or on the road. Even if you’re salaried, expect to work consistent extended hours. 

The largest number of employers of public relations specialists are in the advertising, business, educational services and government sectors, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Salary Information

On average, public relations specialists earn $61,150 per year. This equates to $29.40 per hour. Here’s how it breaks down by industry: 

  • Advertising: $64,230
  • Business: $66,340
  • Educational Services: $57,940 
  • Government: $65,310

Education Requirements

Most organizations require at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for a public relations specialist role. A major related to public relations or communications is preferred by many employers but isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. 

If you already have some college credits or an associate’s degree, search for colleges or universities with degree completion programs that allow transfer credits. 

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average growth rate is around 6% through 2028. This is a percentage point higher than the industry average for all occupations. 

Tips for Becoming a Public Relations Specialist 

Ready to start your quest toward becoming a public relations specialist? Here are some tips to help jumpstart your journey. 

Continue Your Education 

Ready to break into a career as a public relations specialist? You can garner attention from top employers with a degree from an accredited and reputable college or university. There are many options to choose from. You can earn your degree from the comfort of your home through an online program.

Another critical benefit of continuing your education is to complete an internship. This is a great way to see other public relations professionals in action and you can learn from seasoned professors as you work your way through the program. 

If you select this path to become a public relations specialist, take advantage of career counseling services offered by the school. A career counselor can help you find job opportunities, build your resume and prepare for interviews. 

Take an Online Course 

Can’t quite afford to continue your education at a college or university? Maybe your career and family obligations are too much at the moment? An online course is a viable substitute for acquiring the knowledge you’re seeking for a fraction of the time and money. 

It may not be enough to land the job of your dreams. However, you could position yourself for a rewarding career as an independent PR professional and possibly launch your own independent firm where you call the shots. 

Sharpen Your Skill Set

The best public relations specialists are always seeking ways to improve. Taking a course or earning a degree isn’t the only way to pull this off. You also want to work toward improving your communication, writing, interpersonal and organizational skills. 

This role requires you to continually collaborate with others, so you want to ensure you’re sending the right message through your words. It’s also essential that you communicate just as effectively on paper since you may be tasked with drafting press releases, speeches and other forms of correspondence about your employer or client. 

Interpersonal skills are significant because they play a vital role in how others view you. It’s a must that you appear friendly and approachable at all times and be thought of in a positive light. You’d hate to be the reason why your employer and client misses out on opportunities! 

You’ll be juggling many balls in the air at once. So you also want to be as organized as possible. Doing so helps things go more smoothly on your end, and you’ll always be prepared to provide the client with updates on projects and PR campaigns. 

Network with Other Professionals

Whether it’s through a professional event, internship or another opportunity, it’s vital that you continue to network. Meeting the right person could help you secure an entry-level role and work your way up the ladder in your organization. 

Best Universities for Becoming a Public Relations Specialist 

These online public relations degree programs give you the best return for your time and money. 

1. Southern New Hampshire University 


Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in public relations. You will learn how to help organizations craft a more compelling message to send to the public and enhance their mission and public image. It’s an ideal option for students who already have credits — you can transfer up to 90 credit hours from a qualifying institution.

Learn more.  

2. The University of Memphis Global 


Learn the essentials of public relations from a team of experienced faculty members. The online bachelor’s in Public Relations from the University of Memphis Global will also prepare you for a rewarding career in the field. It’s accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and requires students to complete a media internship to gain real-world experience. 

Learn more

Prefer public relations courses instead of a formal degree program? Maybe you want to supplement what you’re learning in the classroom? Here are some courses worth considering. 

1. The Ultimate Public Relations Masterclass 

Source: Udemy

Want to become a public relations expert? This Udemy bestseller will show you the ropes and equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel as a public relations professional. The low enrollment fee includes full lifetime access to 51 lectures jam-packed into hours of on-demand video, case studies, checklists, templates and a host of useful activities. You will also receive a certificate of completion when you finish the course. 

The class is led by Heather Baker. She is the founder and CEO of TopLine Comms, a digital PR agency. 

Get this course. 

2. How Exactly to Do PR and Press Release Marketing from Scratch! 

Source: Udemy

This introductory course is ideal for aspiring public relations professionals. It’s broken down into 4 core components: 

  • How to Build a Targeted Press List
  • Creating the Perfect Press Release
  • Press Distribution Masterclass
  • How to Get Even More Press 

When you enroll, you will unlock 35 minutes of on-demand video and 4 downloadable resources to supplement your learning. The class is led by Andrew Miller, a startup marketing expert and global lecturer.

Get this course.

Start Preparing for a Career as a Public Relations Specialist Today

Don’t spend another day putting your career goals on the backburner. Take the first step by enrolling in an online public relations degree program or course. 

Consider our top recommendations as you evaluate your options and decide on the best fit for you. You’ll be so glad you did — your hard work will pay off when you land a career as a public relations specialist or launch your own PR firm. 

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community

Learn more at SNHU.