People who enjoy working with the public and the media may enjoy a career as a public affairs specialist. This job title is usually associated with government agencies or contractors, but these specialists may also work in private companies.
Public affairs specialists develop a variety of materials designed to promote their agency's services or provide information to the public on a specific issue. These materials can include webpages, newsletters, brochures, emails, news releases, public presentations, videos and blog postings. Specialists also serve as advisers to agency leaders, offering insight on how to respond in the media during a crisis situation or how to proactively communicate about a non-crisis issue. This advice can include both the messages to use and the medium in which to provide them.
Responding to inquiries from the public and the media is another duty of the public affairs specialist. This can include answering general questions and receiving requests for copies of public records. Specialists may serve as spokespeople for their employer or arrange for the media to interview one of the agency's leaders. They may also coordinate the agency's presence at trade shows or conferences.
Public affairs specialists need strong written and oral communication skills, as well as a solid knowledge of grammar, spelling and punctuation. They should be able to manage multiple projects at the same time and be proficient in standard office software. Employers may consider experience in graphic design software and crisis communication training a plus.
Those working in public affairs need to be outgoing, confident individuals who can work well with people from all levels of an organization. They should work well under pressure and be able to produce materials in short order during a crisis situation. Supervisors want public affairs specialists to possess tact and good judgment.
Education and Experience
Employers expect public affairs specialists to have a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, public relations or a related field. They also desire candidates to have two or more years of experience in public relations work or legislative affairs. Some agencies may accept a combination of education and experience in lieu of a bachelor's degree.
Salary and Job Outlook
Researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics group information about public affairs specialists with that of public relations specialists. They show that this group made an average salary of $59,370 in May 2009. The agency predicts strong job growth in the field between 2008 and 2018, with an increase of 24 percent expected.
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Public Affairs Job Descriptions
As a public affairs professional, you will perform highly important services to a corporation, non-profit organization or government agency. You will essentially...