Carlo-Armstrong, Jacyn - Public Relations

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[edit] Job Title

Public Relations Specialist

[edit] General Overview

Public Relations Specialists are responsible for creating and maintaining the public’s perception of an individual or organization, through the promotion of a positive public image. In order to do this, PR Specialists construct media releases that work to mold the perceptions held in the surrounding public[1]. These persons determine what material should be released to the public and when it should be released in order to benefit the client’s public image. PR Specialists are also responsible for increasing the awareness of their client, and enhancing their social presence. Further, PR Specialists may also be consulted in order to reverse negative information that has been released into the public, in order to retract the negativity and replace it with positive, constructive information to enhance the client’s public image[2]. This job is an important component of any organization, seeing as a PR Specialist is responsible for the organization’s reputation in the public eye[3].

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

PR Specialists are responsible for providing the public and media with requested information or directing them towards the appropriate person in the organization that can do so. To do this, press releases and other media releases may be drawn up and communicated externally. Further, building meaningful relationships with the people that function as the community’s representatives is immensely important. The primary goal of PR Specialists is to enhance the client’s public image. Therefore, public relations programs are created as a way of communicating information to the public. These include highlighting the positive aspects of the individual or organization such as their environmental impact, or achievements. PR Specialists are responsible for both the construction and the operation of these programs. Another way to effectively manipulate public image is through PR strategies that PR Specialists are responsible for understanding and incorporating into their work[2]. In order to develop these strategies PR Specialists are responsible to have a full understanding of the organization’s intentions and aspirations as well as their “promotional policies” (for a further understanding of promotional policies, see Promotion Policy definition). These strategies are also helpful when dealing with negative events, as they provide strategies on how to engage with the public without further negative repercussions on the public image[2]. PR Specialists also consult with the individuals or team that represents the client on appropriate and adequate communicative strategies to those both internal and external to the organization as well as provide consultation for future business deals and partnerships. Further, considering society is technologically dependent, it is a PR Specialists responsibility to be up to date on technology and what is happening on the Internet. PR Specialists also produce written reports based on the organization’s activities that are accessible to the public and employees[1].

[edit] Typical Workday

A typical workday for PR Specialists consists of long hours indoors, usually sitting in an office like setting. They may have workweeks that are over forty hours and overtime is very common. Though most of the communication in this field is done through email and telephone, there is also consistent face-to-face contact with coworkers, clients and others. Seeing as email is a frequently used and accessible form of communication, it is important to note that the workload could extend into one’s home life. Knowing how to use technology and its tools is a big component of this job. This job requires knowledge of communicative software and websites, such as email (Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) and social media websites (such as Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn) which are both used to communicate with others and as a tool to understand the public’s perception of the client. One must also be knowledgeable of video and website creation software, editing software and graphics and photo imaging software (such as Photoshop). The work environment involves high-pressure situations that a PR Specialist must be able to handle adequately[2]. Typically, most of the employment in this field comes from Public Administration organizations, which hire 23% of PR Specialists. Following this, professional, scientific and technological services hire 20% while associates, information and culture and entertainment and recreation make up 27%, each hiring roughly 9% of those in this field[4]. Seeing as these are the most common organizations that hire PR Specialists, clients will consist of these organizations, or those individuals associated with them. In a typical workday, a PR specialist will develop profiles based on information they research, regarding the organization. Once this information is compiled, the profile is used to construct speeches, pamphlets and such alike. Once that has been accomplished, PR Specialists construct news releases, speeches or other platforms for the communication to the public. Finally, a PR Specialist will then form and implement the PR programs they have created for the organization. These are the types of duties a PR Specialist will perform during an average workday[1].

[edit] Education Requirements and Other Qualifications

A PR Specialist must have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, though degrees in Public Relations, Communication and Business are favoured. Having a bachelor’s degree in these disciplines will enhance a person’s chance of gaining employment in Canada and the US[4]. Colleges also offer programs in Public Relations, including some with Co-Op opportunities (such as Humber, Fanshawe and Seneca, see Further, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree one can complete a graduate program in Public Relations that will improve the likelihood of getting a job as a Public Relations Specialist[1]. This graduate program is offered at many colleges across Ontario, including Niagara College and Humber[3]. Any internship one acquires in the field will enhance the likelihood of gaining employment in the PR field. It is important to note that even with these educational qualifications, gaining employment may be easier in some provinces, such as Ontario (for a complete breakdown of employment opportunities by region, please see Job Bank Job Outlook). Also, those that have experience with enhanced communication roles, increase their probability of employment. In an entry-level position within this profession, one’s workload will consist of research and gathering information about an organization, while those with experience will create and implement PR programs, speeches and press releases[1].

[edit] Related Skills, Interests and Abilities

Knowledge related to communications, media, English, sales and marketing, customer and personal service, administrative management, computers, electronics and clerical knowledge are all beneficial to a job in Public Relations[2]. Some of the skills associated with this career are active listening, speaking, coordination regarding social situations, social perceptiveness, problem sensitivity, time management, writing, critical thinking, reading comprehension, persuasion and complex problem solving. On top of these, having proper oral, written and speech comprehension and expression are very important for this career. Being able to use both deductive and inductive reasoning are abilities that enhance careers in this field. Further, those who are detail oriented tend to thrive within this career[2].

Three noteworthy skills to have in this profession are writing skills, active listening and social perceptiveness. This career involves an above average amount of writing such as writing speeches, press releases and documents. Therefore, writing skills ensure that the information is being adequately conveyed and communicated to the audience, whether the general public or the organization’s shareholders[2]. Active listening is another important skill to have in this profession. Considering that this profession deals with the public and the organization, it is important to be able to listen to what is being said in order to gain a full understanding of the conversation, whilst also engaging in the conversation ensuring the other parties their needs and concerns have been heard. A major aspect of this career involves communication from one party to another, and active listening a main component of this ability[2]. Social perceptiveness is another skill that is important in this field. This skill encompasses the ability to read peoples reactions and emotions. Being able to gage the reactions of others is crucial to this job. Understanding someone’s responses and reactions ensures that a PR Specialist will be able to communicate the information in the most effective platforms as well as convey the appropriate messages[2].

[edit] Relevance of a Psychology Undergraduate Degree

As discussed throughout, there are many components of this career that would benefit from having background knowledge in psychology. Seeing as that this profession deals with the perceptions of the public, reputations of organizations and individuals, having an understanding of human behaviour and interaction would be beneficial to this profession. Brock University offers courses that would enhance this understanding of human behaviour such as social psychology (both part one and two), introduction to psychology, development of deception, and critical thinking in psychology.

Social psychology gives psychology students an understanding of individual and societal behaviour. Both parts of this course discuss the theories and perspectives associated with the influence people hold in regards to communication and group processes. Specific examples of the phenomenon that are learned in this course are groupthink, fundamental attribution theory, the art of persuasion the use of heuristics and biases that are found in society. Further, the second part of this course teaches students how to assess public concern, which is one of the underlying components to public relations. PR Specialists must address the concerns that the general public/stakeholder express about a particular organization and transform them. Having a firm understanding of these types of phenomenon would be an asset to this profession, considering it’s relationship to public and understanding the general population.

The “critical thinking in psychology” course provides students with the ability to see others’ perspectives enabling them to think about multiple solutions to present problems. This would enhance one’s success in public relations because this PR Specialists engage with a diverse population and understanding their viewpoints would be a valuable ability. Further, this course teaches psychology students how to evaluate the publications of others as well as examine different types of research and sources. PR Specialists must be able to adequately understand a multitude of information; therefore being able to understand and authenticate these sources of information would be beneficial.

Further, Brock offers a course called “the development of deception”. This course discusses the role of verbal and non-verbal deception cues. In this course, we learn how to evaluate body language and social cues of others. In a career where skills such as social perceptiveness, persuasion and negotiation are required, this ability is an asset. These behavioural cues are a part of the discipline of psychology, which shows ways in which this particular degree would be a valuable one to obtain.

[edit] Salary Potential

The median annual salary for this career is $49,733 according to 2014 statistics. Experience affects salary, seeing as those who enter the field usually yield a salary that is 10% below the national average, while those with experience (about the middle of their PR career) are shown to be roughly 6% above the national average, which sits at $51,000. The salary potential extends to about $70,000 for this field. This field provides health benefits, such as medical and dental[5]. Throughout Canada the salary for this profession is relatively similar, however, it does slightly vary depending on province (for a complete breakdown of salaries by province or regions within Ontario, see Job Bank Provincial Salary for PR Specialists).

[edit] Job Outlook

Prospective jobs have risen significantly as a function of the demand to communications to both the internal and external parties associated with these organization. According to Service Canada, this trend is expected to increase[4]. The projected growth for this profession is between 8% and 14%. This means that from 2012 to 2022 there is an estimate of 58,800 job opportunities within this profession, however this is a projection within the United States [2]. In Canada, specifically within Ontario, it is estimated that there will be many job openings within the field. As discussed earlier, Ontario and Alberta have the most optimistic job outlooks of this profession, compared to the other provinces. Further, the use of social media has increased, which has created a higher demand for this specific profession. However, seeing as social media is constantly updated, those who are willing to work unconventional hours or are willing to work in temporary positions (as opposed to full-time) are more likely to gain employment[6].

[edit] More to Know

For more information on this profession, please visit the following websites:

Canadian Public Relations Society
Ontario Colleges that provide education programs in Public Relations

--Jc11vd 20:49, 26 March 2015 (EDT)

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015). Public Relations Specialists. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 O*Net Online. (2014) Details Report for 27-3031.00 - Public Relations Specialists. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 (2015). Public Relations Programs at Ontario Colleges. Retrieved from
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Service Canada. (2013). Professional Occupations in Public Relations and Communications. Retrieved from
  5. Pay Scale. (2015). Public Relations (PR) Specialist Salary (Canada). Retrieved from
  6. Job Bank of Canada. (2013). Professional occupations in public relations and communications. Retrieved from
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