Public Relations Specialist Job Profile

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The media has grown to be an extremely powerful tool and all industries and businesses need their services to prosper, because the media is the only way they have of communicating to their existing and prospective customers. Therefore, there is a huge demand for capable people who can manage the company's image, and the image of their products and services. And they need this management to be of top-notch standards as their profitability depends on what the public at large perceives of the company, its products, its services, and the image they carry in the market.

A public relations specialist is always at work, trying to build up favorable impressions and reputations for the company. They are constantly on the lookout for news that might affect the company’s image and then they liaise with the media to ensure that the news is carried in a manner that is as favorable to the concerned company as possible by answering any questions the media personnel might have and then suggesting story angles for a concerned story. They are also responsible for ensuring that the media carries favorable reports from time to time, which are not based on any particular event but as part of a general feature promoting the company. They also liaise with the media in case a company needs to call a press conference and work to ensure that such a conference works out to the company’s advantage. However, the work of a public relations executive is not limited to large corporate offices, but also includes the government, nongovernmental organizations, individuals, or even political parties. In short, people working in a public relations department work to ensure that the media conveys the image and position of their employer in as favorable a way as possible.

Working as a public relations manager does not require specialized qualifications, but most employers do prefer some work experience and college graduates are usually given preference. Those who do find work in public relations are generally college graduate who have specialized in journalism, communications, advertising and public relations. They generally find some sort of work experience during their college years as internships and understudies. Having experience in an industry that is the same as that of your employer is also considered to be a bonus. You will also need to have a sense of how the public may relate to the company and its products and services. There are professional organizations of public relations experts like the Public Relations society of America.

A lot of organizations depend on public relations experts to maintain healthy symbiotic relationships with their customers, investors, the community they are located in, to social welfare groups to intimate them about their operations, the media and also their employees, in case the organization is a large one. An important function of a public relations expert is to convey corporate messages to the media, work with advertising agencies in order to ensure that the company is promoted as required, managing the organization’s interactions with the customers and local communities, managing and smoothing over any troubles that may crop up and resolving any conflicts that may arise out of miscommunications. Equally important is the requirement for managing press releases, where the public relations specialist works with the company and the press in order to develop and maintain relationships with the media for favorable press coverage.

A public relations manager’s job may require traveling and may even require working on site. Working hours may also need to be extended during emergencies and crises and work may continue well into the night. This may occur in case of very big organizations where on coming into a negative light, they may need their public relations managers to control the damage as efficiently as possible with utmost haste.

Public relations specialists need not just work for a specific company and may often work for a company that handles public relations for a large number of clients. They may also choose to work as a freelancer or an independent consultant as a small business unto themselves.

Usually, while recruiting public relations specialists, companies tend to look for these skill sets:
  • Clarity in communication.
  • An outgoing personality.
  • Ability to make quick and correct judgments.
  • Ability to communicate confidently.
  • Initiative to come up with innovation.
  • Creativity for effective and original communication.
  • Research skills for aggregating information.
  • Ability to work in a team.
For those looking at a career in public relations, getting an accreditation from the Universal Accreditation Board or from the International Association of Business Communicators will help to place you ahead of others applying for the same job even though it might not be a specified job requirement.

When you start work as a public relations specialist, you will initially have to work on maintaining files and records pertaining to your company’s public profile and activities. You may even need to interact with the press and customers of your organization as well. When you gain some experience with these activities, you will have to help in coordinating press releases, press conferences, and public events for your company. The next level will see you writing press releases, preparing press kits, and coordinating large events and public relations programs. If you choose to work at a small firm, you will gain a wider variety of experiences as there will be fewer people and everybody will need to pitch in and not specialize in one kind of activity. Once you have a significant level of experience you may even be promoted to a supervisory level, where you oversee the work of others as an account executive, senior account executive, account manager and even a vice president of the organization.

Job openings for people wishing to work in public relations will increase at a rate higher than that for other jobs, but the present situation is quite competitive with more applicants than there are jobs. Therefore, those with preferred college degrees like communication or journalism will advance faster and move ahead. However, a career of a public relations specialist is a paying profession and average earnings calculated on May 2006 are to the scale of:
  • For those involved in advertising: $49,800
  • For people working in managerial positions: $52,940
  • For those involved in business, labor and political organizations: $51,400
  • For those working in the government:$47,550
  • For those involved in education: $43,300
Working as a public relations specialist might see you doing the following things on an average day:
  • You may need to write reports and proposals for various company projects and audits.
  • You may need to plan and organize events like conventions and conferences.
  • You may be working on disseminating knowledge or information about the activities of an organization or a government division.
  • You may need to prepare press releases or press kits for media events and press conferences to promote your organizations activities or products or services in the media.
  • You may need to present audio-visual material in order to communicate information to a congregation of people.
  • You may need to represent your company at conventions or community events

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