What Do Public Relations Specialists Do? - A Guide

By Promo Panda Staff

Jacks and Jills of all trades 

What do public relations specialists do? Even more important than that, what is a public relations specialist? 

A public relations specialist is a PR professional who has achieved expert-level status. They may own their own PR company or work as a PR consultant, directing large PR teams in their work. 

But at hear, a PR specialist is someone who knows the PR industry inside and out and is ready to help their clients achieve the image they want with different groups of people. 

As for what public relations specialists do from week to week, it can vary quite a bit. One specialist might work in more of a supervisory role and another might handle client campaigns single-handedly to make sure everything gets taken care of exactly the right way. 

In the following sections, we will discuss a few very common tasks that PR specialists focus on during the course of their work. 

Cultivating a favorable image 

All of what a PR specialist does is in the pursuit of cultivating a favorable public image for their client or clients. 

Make no mistake: this is by far the most important part of a public relations specialist’s job, and in many ways, it’s the central focus of public relations in general. After all, it’s right there in the name. 

But actually achieving this goal can be quite difficult, and even though there are many tried and true PR techniques, they very often need to be altered and adapted to fit different types of situations. 

When working for a smaller, local client, a PR specialist might be able to cultivate a favorable image with the community simply by arranging for a few ads on local billboards and websites. 

But using the same methods for a much larger national corporation probably wouldn’t have the same effect, especially if that corporation had a recent product recall.

Cultivating a favorable image

Rather than trying many different approaches and seeing what sticks, a PR specialist will look at a client campaign through the lens of experience and know which route to take. 

Part of this decisionmaking process may be natural intuition, but it’s also earned via years and years of PR work in different industries for very different kinds of clients. 

Only by achieving the desired results for their clients can PR specialists maintain a favorable reputation for themselves as well. 

Composing press releases and media kits  

Press releases and media kits are vital public relations tools. They are often created in support of a recent newsworthy event for a client. 

For example, if a new company president has been appointed, this would be worthy of a press release, especially if either the former or new president was a public figure to some degree. 

A media kit is intended to be sent out to different journalists and press outlets to explain vital information about the client in question and to entice those journalists and outlets to consider publishing original content about the client. 

For either of these materials, a public relations specialist working on the campaign will most likely be directly involved. If a particular press release is especially important, the specialist may decide to write it themselves. 

Press releases, specifically, need to be very carefully worded. A press release is a company’s chance to say exactly what they need to about a situation, without interruption or commentary. 

Think of it this way: when a person speaks, especially a public figure, they need to be careful about what they say in order to not offend different groups or give the wrong impression of who they are and what they care about. 

When a company speaks, most often via PR, what they say needs to be even more carefully curated. 

PR specialists are able to craft press releases and media kits that communicate something specific and important, all without creating problems or opening the door for criticism. 

Creating a campaign strategy 

A campaign strategy is extremely important in PR. It determined how an upcoming campaign should play out. 

PR campaigns typically aren’t meant to be ongoing; they’re supposed to last for a certain amount of time and are often put in place to promote a new product or kick off a new public image. 

Without an underlying and carefully planned strategy, PR campaigns can go wrong very quickly. 

Creating a campaign strategy

A detailed strategy makes for a successful campaign, and that includes detailing what to do in the case of a problem, something we’ll talk about more in the next section.

A campaign strategy should also include what types of campaign materials will be used. Will there be commercials? How many different commercials should be used and when should they be aired? 

Will there be a social media component to the campaign? On how many platforms? Which websites will allow us to reach our target audience

All these questions and many, many more need to be asked by PR specialists and their teams. If everyone on the team can refer back to a thorough campaign strategy, then there will be fewer opportunities for slip-ups. 

Damage control 

In any PR campaign, mistakes can get made. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also just something that PR specialists plan for in advance. 

Specialists need to look at different worst-case scenarios as a way of preparing for any and all of them. 

When things go wrong, PR specialists are in charge of setting things right, as difficult as that may be. 

Certain problems may even require a brand new PR campaign in order to redirect public discourse or add official statements to an ongoing conversation. 

There may even be times when a PR specialist will make appearances on news shows and late-night shows in an effort to deliver specific messages that can help clarify misunderstandings. 

When public relations specialists plan for the worst, they can be more confident in the overall success of PR efforts for their clients. 

These are just a few of the tasks that PR specialists need to handle and you can be sure that the work never really ends. There are always new problems to solve, and for a PR specialist, these are just more challenges waiting to be overcome.