When celebrities, companies, charitable organizations and authors need to generate publicity for their efforts, they turn to publicists, who are also known as public relations specialists or media relations specialists. These professionals keep their client in the public eye by giving out positive information through newspaper articles, social media updates and radio interviews. Salaries depend on who is hiring and where the job is located.
Publicists get paid a mean $60,400 per year as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the lowest paid made under $30,860 yearly, while the top earners received over $96,880. To earn these bucks, publicists spin good news about their client to her target audience. They write and distribute press releases, tweet her latest accomplishments and draft speeches that she can make in public. For organizations, they may develop and implement fundraisers, or ensure marketing campaigns match corporate identity goals. Publicists generally have long hours, with almost one-third working more than 40 hours a week in 2010, reports the BLS.
The biggest employers of publicists were advertising, public relations and related services, which hired 30,830 out of a total 212,510 professionals and paid a mean $73,190 per year. Business, professional, labor, political and similar organizations were second for jobs, hiring 19,440 publicists at an average annual $59,640. The highest pay was in water, sewage and similar systems, at a mean $94,390 yearly, followed by the Postal Service, averaging $89,450 annually, and the federal government at a mean $87,130 per year.
Areas with the most people boasted the most jobs for the profession. For states, California topped the employment list, with 22,920 publicists averaging $70,990 yearly. New York was next with 20,420 jobs at a mean $69,190 per year, followed by Texas, with 18,050 professionals making a mean annual $58,550. For cities, the most jobs were in New York City, where 15,780 earned a mean $73,800 yearly, and Washington, D.C., with 12,690 publicists averaging $81,700 per year. The areas with the highest pay included the District of Columbia, which the BLS considered a state, with mean pay at an annual $83,050, and San Francisco, California, averaging $83,610 yearly.
If you’re interested in being a publicist, you’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in public relations, communication or journalism. Voluntary certification is available from the Public Relations Society of America, which requires work experience and passing an exam. You can look forward to job increases of 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS, which is greater than the average 14 percent expected for all occupations. Social media is creating more outlets for publicists because many companies want to take advantage of this new technology.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Summary Report for Public Relations Specialists.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Wages for Public Relations Specialists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Public Relations Managers and Specialists Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Work Environment for Public Relations Managers and Specialists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Public Relations Manager or Specialist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Outlook for Public Relations Managers and Specialists
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.