21 mayo, 2024

Creative communicators who thrive on the demands of client reputation management should check out the competitive field of public relations

Public relations (PR) is about managing reputation. A career in PR involves gaining understanding and support for your clients, as well as trying to influence opinion and behaviour.

Youll use all forms of media and communication to build, maintain and manage the reputation of your clients. These range from public bodies or services, to businesses and voluntary organisations.

Youll communicate key messages, often using third party endorsements, to defined target audiences in order to establish and maintain goodwill and understanding between an organisation and its public.

As a PR officer, youll monitor publicity and conduct research to find out the concerns and expectations of your client organisations stakeholders. Youll then report and explain the findings to its management.

Responsibilities

  • planning, developing and implementing PR strategies;
  • communicating with colleagues and key spokespeople;
  • liaising with, and answering enquiries from media, individuals and other organisations, often via telephone and email;
  • researching, writing and distributing press releases to targeted media;
  • collating and analysing media coverage;
  • preparing and supervising the production of publicity brochures, handouts, direct mail leaflets, promotional videos, photographs, films and multimedia programmes.
  • devising and coordinating photo opportunities;
  • organising events including press conferences, exhibitions, open days.
  • maintaining and updating information on the organisations website;
  • managing and updating information and engaging with users on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook;
  • sourcing and managing speaking and sponsorship opportunities;
  • commissioning market research;
  • managing the PR aspect of a potential crisis situation.

Qualifications

No set qualifications are required to become a PR officer, but most entrants tend to have a degree or a HND.

There are few specific PR degree courses available, and entry to the profession is generally open to all graduates. However, as PR is one of the most popular career choices for graduates in the UK, the following degree and HND subjects may be particularly helpful:

  • business/management;
  • communication and media studies;
  • English and creative writing;
  • marketing;
  • politics;
  • social sciences.

Postgraduate qualifications in PR are available and may improve your chances of securing a position, although they will not replace the personal qualities and experience that employers are looking for.

Skills

  • excellent communication, interpersonal and writing skills;
  • drive, competence, flexibility and a willingness to learn;
  • excellent organisational and time management skills with the ability to multitask;
  • the ability to cope with pressure;
  • creativity, imagination and initiative;
  • good teamwork, analytical and problem-solving skills;

Work experience

Pre-entry experience in PR, communications, marketing and media is highly desirable, although relevant paid experience may be difficult to find.

Volunteering is a very useful way of gaining experience. Helping at a local charity can give you exposure to planning events, contacting media outlets and writing press releases and articles. Keep a record or copy of anything you organise or write. Employers also like graduates with experience of writing for student magazines or who have been involved with student radio or university societies.

It is worth contacting your university careers service, as they may have details of available PR work placements.

As a student, you can join the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) at a reduced rate. This will enable you to access details of work placements and opportunities to network with employers. The CIPR provides details of graduate training schemes and offers courses and training, including the qualifications leading to Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status.

Joining a consultancy or in-house PR department in a junior role, such as a PR assistant, may be a good starting point. Many PR departments and consultancies are small and not rigidly structured so, by demonstrating the right mix of ability and commitment, you may get the opportunity to develop your career. Entry as a secretary or administrator could also lead to professional opportunities.

Employers

PR practitioners work across a range of industries and may work in any of the following settings:

  • business-to-business (B2B);
  • consumer;
  • corporate;
  • financial;
  • internal communications;
  • local government;
  • not-for-profit organisations and charities;
  • public affairs;
  • trade and technical.

Vacancies for PR officers exist in-house and in consultancies:

  • An in-house department works exclusively for one company or organisation, which may be public, commercial or not-for-profit. As an in-house PR professional, youll need to acquire specialist knowledge of the particular area in which you are working to enable you to design and implement a specific PR programme to meet the organisations requirements.
  • PR consultancies provide an independent service to several client organisations, often working within very different market sectors. Consultancies vary in size, from large international firms with offices throughout the world to small local firms who may specialise in a specific area such as fashion, music, healthcare or finance. Larger consultancies are likely to have a wider client base, ranging from law firms to builders merchants.

Professional development

Your training will vary depending on the organisation. Some larger firms offer graduate training schemes, which provide you with a structured programme of work experience and skills development. However, the majority of training will be on the job, working with more experienced colleagues with responsibility being extended gradually as ability and opportunity allow.

Many organisations encourage new employees to go on short, external courses that are designed for PR professionals. For example, a range of short courses specifically tailored for PR professionals are run by the:

  • CIPR;
  • Henshall Centre.

There is an increasing emphasis on gaining professional qualifications in PR. The CIPR offers the following courses, which are available on a part-time and distance-learning basis:

  • Advanced certificate – aimed at graduates interested in pursuing a career in PR or people who have been working in the business at fairly junior levels for at least two years.
  • Diploma – helps PR practitioners to develop as effective and efficient professionals with leadership potential.

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