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What Is a Publicist?

A publicist is a type of public relations professional who helps promote products and services through the media. Common clients for publicists include companies, brands and public figures.

What exactly does a publicist do, and how does it differ from public relations specialists? The following sections answer these questions, provide basic career information and help you learn how to become a publicist.

Responsibilities of Publicists

As a publicist, your primary responsibility is securing placements for your client in magazines, TV, online and elsewhere. Specific tasks include writing press releases, managing media campaigns and building relationships that will generate favorable press coverage.

This profession is narrower in nature than public relations roles, according to Amy Sciarretto, principal and founder of music public relations firm Atom Splitter PR. Public relations professionals deal with the entire vision of how a client is presented to the media. Publicists concentrate on the specific details of media exposure.

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“It’s the daily grind of discussing the artists with the media, of reaching goals that were mapped out, and of getting the artist press coverage,” Sciarretto said. “The publicity is the placements, and it’s one cornerstone in the public relations campaign, but it’s a critical piece on which the rest of the campaign rests, so publicity must be executed with utmost care.”

Job responsibilities will be determined on the nature of the client and specific needs.

Publicist Salary and Career Outlook

Official salary and job outlook figures for publicists are not available, specifically. However, since publicists are a type of public relations professional, data from the BLS for public relations specialists can shed light on these two important aspects of the career.

The median annual salary for public relations specialists is $59,300. The highest 10 percent earn more than $112,260 and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $32,840.

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to increase 9 percent by 2026, which is slightly more than the average for all occupations (7 percent). One important factor for this growth is the rising use of social media. That will create more work for professionals who are tasked with appealing to consumers and the general public in new ways. Public relations specialists will be needed to help clients use these new resources effectively.

Becoming a Publicist

Important Skills to Refine

Publicists face everyday obstacles to enhancing the way their clients are viewed by the public. Competitors are everywhere in industries like movies, TV and music. That’s why Claire Julian, a publicist at Nettwerk Music Group, said tenacity, as well as excellent organization and writing skills are important skills to refine. In an interview with Monster, Julian said in addition to developing tour press for the label’s talent, she spends a lot of pitching stories and opportunities to online and blog press, as well as national press.

“A good publicist understands the best way to take an artist’s story and present it to the media in a meaningful way to maximize coverage for both the outlet and the band,” she said. “A good publicist needs to see the pros and cons of a situation, or plan and be able to anticipate the outcome before it happens.”

Preparedness is another must-have. As a publicist, you’ll need a back-up plan ready if an artist needs to cancel a show or interview.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a publicist. Relevant fields of study include public relations, communication and marketing.

Consider obtaining a fully online bachelor’s in communication. You’ll be able to study in a convenient, flexible learning environment while learning about key areas in publicity, such as public relations, digital marketing, journalism, storytelling and social media. Develop the skills you’ll need to succeed as a publicist and in other communication roles at Southeastern University.