Texas Tech University

Public Relations: FAQ


What is public relations?

Although the definition of public relations varies, ultimately public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt to each other for mutual benefit. More specifically, public relations specialists serve as advocates for clients seeking to build and maintain positive relationships with the public.

To achieve their goals, public relations practitioners must develop effective relationships with many different publics such as the media, employees, members, customers, communities, shareholders, other institutions and with society at large.1

What does it take to be a public relations specialist?

Public relations specialists must be able to communicate thoughts clearly and simply. They must also show creativity, initiative and good judgment. People who choose public relations as a career should have an understanding of human psychology and enthusiasm for motivating people. Writing is arguably the most important qualification due to the numerous news releases, speeches and articles public relations specialists must create. Critical thinking, strategic planning and public speaking skills are also important qualifications.

Competition is high for entry-level public relations jobs. College graduates who combine a degree in public relations with an internship or other related work experience will have the most opportunities.2

Where can a graduate with a public relations degree work?

There were more than 275,000 people employed as public relations specialists in 2008.3 These jobs are found in a variety of industries, such as healthcare, corporate communications, government, non-profits, entertainment, sports, travel and hospitality.

Within these practice areas, a practitioner can work in variety of specializations, such as strategic planning, event planning, community relations, government relations, research, media relations and crisis management.4

What is the job outlook of public relations?

Public relations is one of the more rapidly growing industries in the job market. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow by 24 percent from 2008 to 2018.

As of May 2010, there were more than 20,000 public relations specialists working in the state of Texas, making it the state with the third highest number of practitioners in the US.

What are some of the growing trends in the public relations industry?

The use of social media in public relations has exploded during recent years. Social media has changed the rules for strategic communication by allowing public relations practitioners and organizations to engage in a two-way conversation with their publics.5

Applied research is also playing a larger role in the world of public relations. Research is essential for determining who to communicate with, how to communicate with them effectively and for measuring the success of those communication efforts. Practitioners often employ focus groups, interviews, surveys and content analyses to collect data.6