PR Basics: How to Be a Public Relations Specialist

By Promo Panda Staff

We’re here to talk about how to be a public relations specialist, so we won’t bore you with too much preamble. 

However, first, we need to settle on a more solid definition of what a public relations specialist actually is. 

Right out of the gate, let’s mention that the term ‘public relations specialist’ is often used in different ways. 

It is sometimes used to refer to any PR professional who has become an absolute expert in the field. They know how to handle any situation and they know how to work on many different kinds of campaigns. 

Other times, PR specialist refers to a PR consultant who works independently to provide PR services to high-end clients. 

As we’re using the term here, a public relations specialist is more likely to work alone, or at least work alone when it comes to handling a specific client. 

PR specialists are also more likely to handle PR for a public figure, as opposed to an entire company or brand. 

They still might have a team behind them to help handle specific details and tasks, but for the most part, the specialist is in charge. 

That’s what we’ll be talking about here: how to become a PR specialist who has an impressive reputation and can pull in big-budget clients whose public image requires near-constant attention. 

Actually getting to this coveted level is up to you and your own sense of determination, but we’d like to help by talking about different ways you can improve your PR skills and build a reputation all your own. 

Keep learning, then learn some more 

If you want to become a PR specialist at some point in the future, then you need to be a constant student, and no, that doesn’t mean you need to stay in school as long as possible. 

Yes, it’s advisable to have a Master’s in PR or a closely-related field before you start your career, but what we really mean by ‘keep learning,’ is that you always need to be curious. 

You need to want to learn more about all the different aspects of PR and how campaigns are handled.

Keep learning, then learn some more

You need to learn a lot about how to interact with clients, how to attract new clients, and how all the nitty-gritty work is done behind the scenes to achieve impressive results. 

If possible, try working different roles within a PR agency to get a taste for all that goes on there. 

Sure, some of your research can be done by looking into different resources, including online resources just like this one, but experience has always been one of the best teachers. 

Especially when you’re first starting your PR career, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand a specific step of the process or you don’t know exactly why a certain decision has been made, ask someone about it. 

If you’re fortunate enough to work under an open-minded manager, then they’ll probably be more than happy to help you better understand what’s going on and why each move is being made. 

Even when you think you’ve learned all there is to know about PR, there’s probably even more yet to be discovered. 

Put in the time 

If you were hoping that you’d be able to become a PR specialist in just a few short years, then we have some bad news for you: it’s not going to happen.

If you want to be a PR specialist who really knows their stuff, then it’s going to take some time. 

In fact, it’s safe to say that many PR specialists don’t truly earn the title until they’ve put in many years of work in PR. 

It could be twenty years before you feel ready to lead a campaign by yourself or strike out on your own as a freelancer. 

Patience is an especially important virtue for anyone hoping to become one of the leading PR professionals in their area. 

If you already find yourself getting antsy at the idea of working at lower levels of a PR company for years on end, then it might be an early sign that trying to become a PR specialist is not the right career choice for you. 

But if you’re excited by the idea of taking the slow route, carefully climbing the ladder, and learning more about the nature of your work each step of the way, then you might find yourself enjoying the slow and steady buildup to becoming a PR specialist. 

Work your way up to management 

Becoming a manager is an unofficial requirement for advancing to the status of a PR specialist, and that’s largely because you need to prove that you can be a leader and handle a great deal of responsibility.

Work your way up to management

Sure, you could also prove your trustworthy qualities by working in other roles, but when it comes time to sign clients all on your own, those prospective clients will want to know that you’ll be able to handle their campaign. 

If you’re able to point to a career’s worth of well-executed campaigns and skillful crisis management, those clients will immediately be more confident in your abilities and be ready to sign a deal. 

As we just discussed, climbing the corporate ladder can take some time, and you need to be patient if you get passed by for a promotion. 

But if you make it clear to your supervisors that you’re ambitious and ready to take on even more responsibility than you already do, they will keep you in mind for future promotions and you’ll be that much more likely to become a PR manager. 

Once there, you’ll have the opportunity to find out what it’s really like to lead a team of professionals. Even more importantly, you’ll learn what to do when things don’t go according to plan.

All of this experience will be extremely valuable down the road, and you shouldn’t discount any of it. 

With time, patience, and skill, you can become the PR specialist you want to be. Just don’t forget to enjoy the journey as well.