The public relations field is quite diverse and challenging. But, there isn't a simple cookie-cutter list for educational requirements that needs to be fulfilled if you want to be a part of it. Moreover, the educational requirements in this field are solely dependent on the type of job you are aiming for. Adding to the confusion, some colleges and universities incorporate public relations coursework into general communication, marketing or business degree programs whereas some offer public relations as a separate degree. A good start for achieving success in public relations is to acquire solid communication skills. Apart from that, there are a number of other educational paths that lead to a career in public relations.
The educational requirements that you may have to full for becoming a part of this industry are as follows:
An undergraduate degree in public relations, communication, marketing, journalism or other related field is required by most employers for an entry-level public relations position. There are some universities that are offering a communications degree that's focused on public relations. When you are enrolled in a public relations degree program, you can expect a combination of classes exploring theory of public relations and liberal arts requirements. You will also have to attend classes concerning technical public relation skills such as newsletters, media management, speeches and press releases.
An advanced degree in communication studies or public relations is required if you are transitioning to the public relations industry from another one or seek upper management positions. In order to get a master's degree in communication, you will have to attend intense and intricate management or leadership classes, communication classes and a specialization in a specific area of public relations such as media management. A thesis will be needed in numerous master's programs for which you will need to research and then write about a public relations topic.
As you start moving from an entry-level public relations job to a mid-level one, it will become a requirement for you to have a specific area of expertise. As the public relations field is rather broad, there is not just one perfect minor for a degree in public relations. Instead, it is better for you to choose a minor in a field that appeals to you such as business, health or psychology. College classes taken after graduation, advanced degrees or industry accreditation programs can also be used for achieving specialization.
If you wish to land a public relations job, it is critical for you to have some on-the-job experience under your belt. As experience is mostly a requirement for even entry-level public relations job, lots of universities require you to get an internship as part of an undergraduate communications or public relations program. Entry-level tasks such as answering the telephone or paperwork can be left to an intern. However, an intern also gets the opportunity of sitting on meetings or working on some special projects related to their interest. The goal is to aid them in understanding how public relations work outside the classroom. They can practice and learn skills they need for performing the job.
In order to thrive and survive, most organizations and businesses need public support and for that they have to engage the services of public relations professionals. The main PR jobs are usually similar, whether you are working for an independent agency or an internal PR department. You just have to fulfill the educational requirements mentioned above to qualify for one of these jobs in the public relations industry:
Public Relations and Communications Specialist
The professionals who come up with and then implement public relations plans are public relations or communications specialists. You may have to get in touch with the media, pen and distribute news releases, monitor media coverage and perform other tasks like contributing to corporate websites and newsletters and events. Both internal and external communications are handled by public relations specialists to ensure that all communications are consistent with the company message and brand strategy. Communicating with multiple audiences such as employees, media, shareholders, general public and even the government is part of the job description.
Specialists in media relations are hired by some organizations and companies for handling all media related activities. This means you have to handle all media coordination and outreach and serve as a spokesperson for the organization. You have to foster positive relationships with producers and reporters by not just answering inquiries, but also providing useful information for stories. It is also your responsibility to coordinate the advertising efforts of a business by purchasing airtime or ad space and developing advertisements. In small companies, this role is usually handled by the director and public relations specialists.
A subset of public relations, the term community relations is often used interchangeably. It involves outreach and communication with a specific audience or community. Nonprofit organizations are usually the ones who hire community relations specialists for handling social awareness campaigns and outreach, sometimes through events.
You have to serve some very specific functions in the governmental sector. Most appointed or elected officials need a press secretary for dealing with public relations tasks. Your job will be to arrange press conferences and often answer questions there and provide information about the officials. You often have to attend events with or in place of the officials they work for.
The PR department often hires a spokesperson for speaking on behalf of the organization or company. This is especially typical in nonprofit organizations that are interested in drawing attention to a cause. It has become the norm for them to hire a public figure or celebrity to motivate people. However, sometimes individuals who are devoted to that same cause may also be hired for speaking as spokespersons and being a part of the public relations efforts.
You can choose any of these jobs as they are all concerned with the field of public relations and can offer you the rewarding job you desire.