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How to Become a Community Relations Professional

Do you have a talent for bringing people together? Do you love serving your local city or town? Then a position as a community relations professional might be the people-focused role perfect for you.

Community relations professionals serve as the public faces of their organizations. They host local activities, give speeches, attend fundraisers, and more to present a friendly face for their company. They focus on building relationships with customers, local business owners, and organizations that align with their mission.

Community relations professionals are excellent team players, building rapport within and outside the organization. They are proficient with traditional and digital public relations and marketing channels. Community relations professionals must also be great negotiators to secure sponsorships and other financial arrangements.

Sample job description

If you have excellent communication skills and are a naturally charismatic leader, consider joining [Your Company Name] as a community relations professional! The communication relations professional will be required to serve as the face of our organization, creating social media content and coordinating press releases as needed. If you are comfortable going to relevant events, such as fundraisers and speaking in front of a crowd or audience when needed, then this position might be for you. You should be charismatic, confident, and able to convince people to support our organization. Access to reliable transportation will be needed for this position, so please consider this before applying. You should have excellent communication, negotiation, and presentation skills as well as an understanding of various computer programs like Canva and Word. Relevant qualifications can be beneficial, but the number one thing we’re looking for is the ability to represent our brand!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Write press releases and other traditional print materials 
  • Create and coordinate social media content 
  • Organize outreach programs to interact with the community and influence public opinion or promote services 
  • Plan and promote public events and press conferences in the community
  • Choose materials to distribute on multimedia channels and promote a positive image of the organization
  • Deliver speeches at public events
  • Attend fundraisers  
  • Respond to questions, comments, and concerns from community members

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in public relations, marketing, mass communications, or a similar field. 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Proficiency using Microsoft Office Suite
  • Excellent presentation and negotiation skills
  • Strong public speaking skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to speak face-to-face with community members
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Ability to multitask and organize in a fast-paced environment
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate with a team

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience in company reputation management 
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills to maintain effective communication
  • Experience overseeing time-sensitive projects and deadlines
  • Bachelor’s degree in public relations or related field
  • 3+ years of experience working with a Fortune 500 company
  • Excellent social media management

Typical work environment

Community relations professionals serve as the presentation aspect of a business or organization. This can mean various things depending on the position, though usually it will involve planning events and managing social media pages as well as speaking at relevant locations. This position may also require the candidate to speak at press conferences and manage press releases. It is extremely important that community relations professionals will have a competent understanding of written and verbal presentation and communication skills.

Community relations professionals must be able to present their brand or business in a professional and proper manner in line with the brand guidelines to secure networking and funding. Communication skills and interpersonal skills are extremely beneficial. Having a background in marketing or sales can be useful to a community relations professional as well. This position also may require prolonged periods sitting behind a computer.

Typical hours

Typical hours for this position are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday in an office setting or working from home.

Available certifications

Community relations professionals will usually not be required to have any certifications, but there are some relevant certifications to this position. Some of these include the following:

  • Professional Certified Marketer (PCM). Becoming a professionally certified marketer can assist community relations professionals in showcasing themselves as an expert when it comes to brand presentation and relations management. This certification can be immensely useful in practical application as well, assisting community relations professionals in successful marketing.
  • Certified Professional – Human Resource (IPMA-CP). The IPMA-CP assists relations or interpersonal professionals to accurately understand leadership, interpersonal and communication skills, and various techniques that will assist in the position. Because of this, this certification can be immensely useful to community relations professionals.
  • Accreditation in Public Relations by PRSA. This organization offers lifelong learning opportunities, as well as resources to help public relations professionals at every step of their career. Their certification programs cover digital strategies, hot trending topics, crisis communication, and reputation management.

Career path

The path to becoming a community relations specialist begins with obtaining your bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications, marketing, or a related field. It is beneficial to gain experience through volunteering, holding an internship, fundraising, or other community-based roles. You can also join professional organizations, such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to gain further accreditation in the industry.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 27-3031

2020 Employment272,300
Projected Employment in 2030303,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 11% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift31,200 increase

After the events of 2020, this industry had to be quick to adapt and evolve in order to position their company for success amidst a pandemic as well as the current cultural trends. With new technology, it is important to stay up to date with the increasing number of channels to promote your product or service. While television, radio, and social media remain popular sources for breaking news, we are seeing an increase in individuals who are turning to podcasts for a more in-depth discussion of trending topics. More than ever, it is important to communicate your message with authenticity and social consciousness.

Another trending medium for community relations professionals is the use of influencers. Reputation and referrals from trusted individuals are crucial to drive engagement and reach your attended audience.