What You Need to Know About Communications Specialists

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If you have a passion for written and verbal communication, consider becoming a communications major. Earning a communications degree can start you on a path toward this career. As a public relations specialist, you will focus on building strong relationships and nurturing a company’s public image.

What Do Communications Specialists Do?

Communications specialists develop and nurture relationships between an organization, members of the media and the public. Often, they are the public face of an organization. These professionals rely on exceptional writing and public speaking skills to represent their company across various media platforms.

How Are Communications Specialists Different From Public Relations Specialists?

The terms “communications specialist” and “public relations specialist” are often used interchangeably. As with communications experts, PR experts are responsible for promoting an organization's desired reputation. Yet, communications experts often face responsibilities that extend beyond maintaining the organization’s reputation. These professionals may also be responsible for internal communication within the organization. For example, they may put together company-wide newsletters, memos, reports, workshops and presentations. Their efforts help ensure that employees support the brand's mission, values and objectives.

What Are the Specific Job Duties in This Field?

A communication specialist's responsibilities can vary from one company to the next. In general, a communications specialist can expect to do any of the following:

  • Coordinate communications efforts with executives and other stakeholders.
  • Write and issue press releases.
  • Develop relationships with members of the media and respond to requests for information.
  • Coordinate the public appearances of executives or other leaders in the organization.
  • Create, develop and implement communication campaigns and monitor their effectiveness.

Communications specialists may also manage an organization’s social media presence. Most organizations are active on at least one major social media platform. These communications professionals may routinely post updates, track engagement and moderate comments.

Where Do Communications Specialists Work?

Communications specialists can work in any sector or industry; they may find employment at nonprofit, governmental and for-profit organizations. Additionally, political campaigns frequently hire these specialists. Any organization can benefit from having an effective communications professional.

Graduates with a communications studies degree might find work at a hospital, manufacturing plant, insurance company, charity or university. These professionals typically work during regular business hours and rarely travel, though this depends on organizational needs.

What Are the Most Important Skills and Traits of These Professionals?

In a communications degree program, you will begin to develop the traits and skills needed for success in this field. Some of these key traits and skills include:

  • Written communication skills: This job is an ideal choice for individuals who enjoy written communication. Note that these professionals must keep their written work direct and straightforward. Clear and simple writing is a necessity in public relations. Communications professionals need to be able to explain information to a diverse audience.
  • Oral communication skills: Communications specialists need to be effective speakers, both in group settings and one-on-one. These professionals may be called upon to give interviews to journalists, including TV interviews. They may also hold press conferences or deliver presentations and workshops to employees.
  • Tactfulness: The most effective communications specialists are tactful. They understand what is appropriate to say in a given situation and are cognizant of timing and delivery. Other important skills and characteristics include strategic planning, leadership and interpersonal skills.

How Can I Become a Communications Specialist?

Aspiring communications specialists should plan to earn a communications degree. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is all that is needed to pursue entry-level work in this field. Prospects can be boosted by looking for internship opportunities while in school. Internships provide a chance to build professional connections and learn on the job. After graduation, individuals may apply for entry-level positions in the field, such as the role of social media manager. As they gain experience, professionals may be positioned to pursue higher-level positions.

You can start working toward your communications degree at Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Bachelor of Arts in Communications program explores the fundamentals of effective communication, including intercultural communication, conflict negotiation, relational communication and advocacy. Explore your future in an online communications program by clicking Request Info at the top of your screen.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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