What Training Do I Need to Become a Publicist?

A publicist is a public relations professional who works either independently or for a firm to manage the public persona of a client. Keep reading to learn what kind of training or education you'd need to become a publicist. Schools offering Public Relations degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Formal Education

Publicists typically need a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree programs in public relations (PR) are often found in a college's school of communications and journalism. This major focuses on learning to build relationships between clients and the general public through media, and by understanding how mass communications works, particularly new media outlets on the Internet. For a degree in PR, students are required to take courses such as principles of PR, strategies in PR, PR writing and advertising copywriting.

Advanced courses emphasize the decision-making process involved with developing a successful campaign, as well as addressing the ethical issues of the profession. Students examine public relations campaigns in the entertainment, political, and private business industries.

Important Information About This Occupation

Median Salary (2015)$43,171
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 6% (for all public relations specialists)
Work Environment Office setting primarily, but travel to events/meetings is often necessary
Online Availability Fully online degree programs are available
Similar Occupations Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers; public relations and fundraising managers

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com

Training from Professional Organizations

A professional organization, such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), offers a number of training seminars, teleseminars, and webinars for graduates and professionals. APR Boot Camp, for example, takes place over two days and prepares you to take the readiness review and examination for accreditation in public relations (APR). It also gives you important information on how to prepare your portfolio.

Other seminars available through the PRSA can give you information on Web writing, communications strategy, content marketing, and association communications. Webinars include such subjects as public opinion, market research, and digital media. An accreditation board oversees the APR exam. After registering to take the exam, the PRSA offers a number of study aids, including a practice test and suggested reading.

The PRSA network consists of a member directory, professional communities, and partnerships that can give you multiple opportunities for internships. The PRSA job board has resources for all levels of employment.

On-the-Job Training and Networking

Some large public relations firms put new hires into training programs, while other firms could put you under the tutelage of an experienced mentor. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), many entry-level workers are responsible for basic office tasks, such as researching stories in newspapers, magazines, or on the Internet and presenting them to management or filing them for future use.

You might also have to make or receive initial contacts with members of the press, or help to coordinate special events for clients or for the media, such as press events or press conferences. These events can give you the chance to interact with clients and other contacts. Over time, you'll probably be asked to start writing press releases or other materials. Experience and talent can often lead to advancement at your current place of employment or at other agencies.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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