Media Relations Specialists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

While your overall schedule should be college preparatory, there are a number of classes you should emphasize during your high school career. Naturally, English and communication classes, such as speech or debate, should be a top priority as they will help you hone your communication skills. Also, take computer classes and other classes that emphasize working with different media, such as radio or television broadcasting classes, digital media, and journalism classes. Courses in mathematics, economics, and business will help you develop the skills you will need to work with budgets and project planning. If your high school offers advertising or marketing classes, be sure to take those. Finally, since a media relations specialist is involved with current events, take any history or social studies class that emphasizes this subject. Such a class will give you the opportunity to observe how current events are related to the public through different media and the influences these media can have.

Postsecondary Training

To become a media relations specialist, you should have at least a bachelor's degree in public relations, communications, marketing, or journalism. Many college programs require or encourage their students to complete internships in public relations, either during the school year or the summer. These internships often provide valuable hands-on experience. Typical classes for those majoring in public relations include public relations management; writing courses that cover news releases, speeches, and proposals; and visual communications such as computer graphics. Other courses you should take include psychology, sociology, and business administration. A master's degree may be helpful as you advance in your career. Additionally, some large organizations have formal training programs for new workers.

Other Education or Training

The International Association of Business Communicators offers online seminars, workshops, and conference sessions on social media, crisis communication, career development and other topics. The Public Relations Society of America provides classes and webinars, as well as workshops at its annual conference. The Canadian Public Relations Society also provides continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Although certification or licensing are not required, you may find it beneficial to get accreditation in the communications field. The Public Relations Society of America offers the accreditation in public relations credential to those who have at least five years of experience and pass a computer-based examination. The society also offers the accreditation in public relations + military communication for military, contractor, and U.S. Department of Defense public relations professionals. The International Association of Business Communicators also offers accreditation.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in summer internships, co-ops, and part-time jobs at public relations firms. Most media relations specialists enter the field after obtaining a few years of experience as a public relations generalist.

In addition to excellent verbal and written communication skills, you need to be creative and aggressive, coming up with new and appealing ideas to attract media interest in your clients. You also need to be able to work under the pressure of deadlines, be able to make decisions quickly and effectively, and do thorough research. As a media relations specialist, you should have an interest in continuously learning about new technologies and using these new technologies to promote the interests of your clients.