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Become A Public Affairs Specialist

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Working As A Public Affairs Specialist

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $65,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Public Affairs Specialist Do

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. 

Duties

Public relations specialists typically do the following:

  • Write press releases and prepare information for the media
  • Respond to information requests from the media
  • Help clients communicate effectively with the public
  • Help maintain their organization's corporate image and identity
  • Draft speeches and arrange interviews for an organization’s top executives
  • Evaluate advertising and promotion programs to determine whether they are compatible with their organization’s public relations efforts
  • Evaluate public opinion of clients through social media

Public relations specialists, also called communications specialists and media specialists, handle an organization’s communication with the public, including consumers, investors, reporters, and other media specialists. In government, public relations specialists may be called press secretaries. In this setting, workers keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies.

Public relations specialists draft press releases and contact people in the media who might print or broadcast their material. Many radio or television special reports, newspaper stories, and magazine articles start at the desks of public relations specialists. For example, a press release might describe a public issue, such as health, energy, or the environment, and what an organization does concerning that issue.

Press releases are increasingly being sent through the Internet and social media, in addition to publication through traditional media outlets. Public relations specialists are often in charge of monitoring and responding to social media questions and concerns.

Public relations specialists are different from advertisers in that they get their stories covered by media instead of purchasing ad space in publications and on television.

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How To Become A Public Affairs Specialist

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Employers prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Education

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. Through such programs, students produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates their ability to prospective employers.

Training

Entry-level workers typically begin by maintaining files of material about an organization’s activities, skimming and retaining relevant media articles, and assembling information for speeches and pamphlets. After gaining experience, public relations specialists begin to write news releases, speeches, articles for publication, or carry out public relations programs.

Other Experience

Internships at public relations firms or in the public relations departments of other businesses can be helpful in getting a job as a public relations specialist.

Some employers prefer candidates that have experience communicating with others through a school newspaper or a leadership position in school or in their community.

Important Qualities

Interpersonal skills. Public relations specialists deal with the public and the media regularly; therefore, they must be open and friendly to maintain a favorable image for their organization.

Organizational skills. Public relations specialists are often in charge of managing several events at the same time, requiring superior organizational skills.

Problem-solving skills. Public relations specialists sometimes must explain how a company or client is handling sensitive issues. They must use good judgment in what they report and how they report it.

Speaking skills. Public relations specialists regularly speak on behalf of their organization. When doing so, they must be able to clearly explain the organization’s position.

Writing skills. Public relations specialists must be able to write well-organized and clear press releases and speeches. They must be able to grasp the key messages they want to get across and write them in a short, succinct way to get the attention of busy readers or listeners.

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Public Affairs Specialist Jobs

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Public Affairs Specialist Career Paths

Public Affairs Specialist
Communications Specialist Account Executive Marketing Manager
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Communications Specialist Editor Marketing Manager
Marketing Program Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Communications Specialist Editor Public Relations Manager
Manager Of Corporate Communications
7 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Executive Assistant Property Manager
Assistant Director, Communications
5 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Editor Public Relations Manager
Director, Corporate Communications
10 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Technical Writer Web Developer
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Reporter Managing Editor Communications Manager
Internal Communications Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Reporter Public Relations Specialist Public Relations Manager
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
6 Yearsyrs
Reporter Senior Editor Communications Director
Director Of Public Affairs
7 Yearsyrs
Public Affairs Officer Communications Officer Communications Director
Vice President Of Marketing & Communications
12 Yearsyrs
Public Affairs Officer Communications Officer Communications Manager
Communications Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Communications Consultant Communications Manager Public Relations Director
Media Relations Director
5 Yearsyrs
Communications Consultant Senior Account Executive Public Relations Director
Public Relations And Communications Director
7 Yearsyrs
Communications Consultant Senior Editor Senior Technical Writer
Publications Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Public Relations Specialist Social Media Manager Strategist
Senior Strategist
8 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Marketing Manager Social Media Manager
Manager Of Digital Media
5 Yearsyrs
Public Relations Specialist Public Relations Consultant
Public Information Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Staff Writer Public Relations Consultant
Media Relations Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Marketing Coordinator Development Coordinator Development Officer
Manager Of Special Events
5 Yearsyrs
Public Affairs Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Public Affairs Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Public Affairs Specialist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Public Relations 2.4 years
Top Careers Before Public Affairs Specialist
Internship 11.7%
Reporter 8.2%
Editor 6.6%
Cashier 3.7%
Journalist 3.4%
Secretary 2.8%
Assistant 2.7%
Top Careers After Public Affairs Specialist
Editor 4.4%
Consultant 3.5%
Manager 3.0%

Do you work as a Public Affairs Specialist?

Public Affairs Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

49.1%

Male

41.9%

Unknown

9.0%
Ethnicity

White

60.1%

Black or African American

15.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.9%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

56.7%

French

12.5%

German

5.0%

Arabic

4.2%

Mandarin

2.5%

Russian

2.5%

Italian

2.5%

Portuguese

2.5%

Chinese

1.7%

Japanese

1.7%

Swahili

0.8%

Swedish

0.8%

Hmong

0.8%

Hindi

0.8%

Somali

0.8%

Korean

0.8%

Danish

0.8%

Wolof

0.8%

Bambara

0.8%

Norwegian

0.8%
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Public Affairs Specialist Education

Schools

Defense Information School

19.3%

University of Maryland - University College

10.8%

University of Phoenix

10.6%

American University

6.8%

George Washington University

6.4%

Howard University

5.1%

Georgetown University

3.8%

Arizona State University

3.6%

George Mason University

3.6%

Webster University

3.4%

University of Maryland - College Park

3.2%

Ashford University

3.0%

Community College of the Air Force

2.8%

Excelsior College

2.8%

University of Missouri - Columbia

2.8%

Southern New Hampshire University

2.8%

University of Oklahoma

2.5%

Syracuse University

2.3%

Full Sail University

2.3%

Johns Hopkins University

2.3%
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Majors

Communication

18.2%

Business

15.1%

Journalism

12.7%

Public Relations

6.8%

Political Science

6.1%

Marketing

5.4%

Management

5.3%

English

4.7%

Public Administration

3.8%

Law

2.4%

Agricultural Public Services

2.3%

Photography

2.2%

Psychology

2.2%

International Relations

2.0%

Education

1.9%

Liberal Arts

1.9%

Graphic Design

1.8%

General Studies

1.7%

Writing

1.7%

Human Resources Management

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.7%

Masters

29.0%

Other

14.6%

Associate

4.7%

Certificate

4.0%

Doctorate

3.2%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$65,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$40,000
Min 10%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$65,000
Median 50%
$106,000
Max 90%
Highest Paying City
San Rafael, CA
Highest Paying State
Hawaii
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Public Affairs Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Public Affairs Specialist in the United States is $65,326 per year or $31 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $40,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $106,000.

Real Public Affairs Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Public Affairs Specialist Natural Resource Group, LLC Minneapolis, MN Oct 01, 2015 $110,006
Senior Public Affairs Specialist Environmental Resources Management, Inc. Minneapolis, MN Nov 23, 2015 $110,006
Public Affairs Specialist Scribe Strategies & Advisors, Inc. Washington, DC Nov 21, 2011 $100,400
Senior Public Affairs Specialist Scura Paley Securities, LLC New York, NY Sep 15, 2016 $90,000
Public Affairs Specialist Sealing Gasketing Corrosion Controls Miami, FL Nov 16, 2015 $89,128
Public Affairs Specialist Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC Jun 14, 2016 $73,270
Latin America and Hispanic Culture Public Affairs Specialist Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide Washington, DC Jul 12, 2015 $72,093
Public Affairs Specialist Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC Jun 15, 2013 $70,794
Public Affairs Specialist Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC Jul 01, 2010 $69,285
Public Affairs Specialist Cemex, Inc. New York, NY Sep 13, 2013 $60,000 -
$70,000
Public Affairs Specialist Institute of Modern Russia New York, NY Oct 01, 2012 $60,000
Public Affairs Specialist ENEL Green Power North America, Inc. Andover, MA Oct 01, 2011 $58,000
Communications & Public Affairs Specialist Special School District No. 1 Minneapolis, MN Dec 15, 2012 $49,712 -
$57,712
Public Affairs Specialist U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Washington, DC Sep 27, 2013 $43,827
Public Affairs and Community Specialist Scenyc, Inc. New York, NY Sep 09, 2013 $41,400
Public Affairs Specialist Caremax International San Rafael, CA Sep 15, 2012 $41,142
Public Affairs Specialist Caremax Inc. San Rafael, CA Oct 01, 2012 $41,142

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Top Skills for A Public Affairs Specialist

  1. Public Affairs
  2. Press Releases
  3. Community Outreach
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Led national public affairs response for multiple national disasters, which garnered national and international media attention.
  • Developed and transmitted information materials through prepared statements, response to inquiries, press releases, and radio/television/social media events.
  • Developed and documented policies and procedures for donor relations, corporate relations and community outreach initiatives.
  • Write and edit news stories about science, technology and other organization activities for public release to internal and external audiences.
  • Played a key role in the social media team, leading media outreach and crisis communications through Twitter and Facebook.

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Top 10 Best States for Public Affairs Specialists

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Virginia
  3. Rhode Island
  4. New Jersey
  5. Washington
  6. Alaska
  7. Nevada
  8. Connecticut
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Oregon
  • (167 jobs)
  • (241 jobs)
  • (34 jobs)
  • (205 jobs)
  • (190 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (42 jobs)
  • (61 jobs)
  • (267 jobs)
  • (92 jobs)

Top Public Affairs Specialist Employers

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Jobs From Top Public Affairs Specialist Employers

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