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A public relations specialist is someone who creates and maintains a favourable public image for their employer or client. They write material for media releases, plan and direct public relations programs, and raise funds for their organizations.
Public relations specialists typically do the following:
Public relations specialists handle an organization’s communication with the public, including consumers, investors, reporters, and other media specialists. In government, they may be called press secretaries. They keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies.
Public relations specialists must understand the attitudes and concerns of the groups they interact with to maintain cooperative relationships with them. They draft press releases and contact people in the media who might print or broadcast their material. Many radio or television special reports, newspaper stories, and magazine articles start at the desks of public relations specialists. For example, a press release might describe a public issue, such as health, energy, or the environment, and what an organization does to advance that issue. In addition to publication through traditional media outlets, releases are increasingly being sent through the web and social media.
Public relations specialists also sponsor corporate events to help maintain and improve the image and identity of their organization or client. In addition, they help to clarify their organization’s point of view to its main audience through media releases and interviews. They observe social, economic, and political trends that might ultimately affect the organization, and they recommend ways to enhance the firm's image based on those trends. For example, in response to a growing concern about the environment, an oil company may create a public relations campaign to publicize its efforts to develop cleaner fuels.
In large organizations, public relations specialists may supervise a staff. They also work with advertising and marketing staffs to make sure that advertising campaigns are compatible with the image the company or client is trying to portray. For example, if the firm has decided to emphasize its appeal to a certain group, such as younger people, the public relations manager ensures that current advertisements will be well received by that group.
In addition, they may handle internal communications, such as company newsletters, and may help financial managers produce an organization’s reports. They may help the organization’s top executives by drafting speeches, arranging interviews, and maintaining other forms of public contact.
Public relations specialists must be able to work well with many types of other workers to accurately report the facts. In some cases, the information they write has legal consequences. They must work with the company's or client's lawyer to be sure that the information they release is both legally accurate and clear to the public.
Public relations specialists usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and travel. They work in fairly high-stress environments, often managing and organizing several events at the same time.
Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor's degree. They also need related work experience. Employers usually want candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, english, or business.
Public relations specialists typically are trained on the job, either in a formal program or by working closely under more experienced staff members. Entry-level workers often maintain files of material about an organization’s activities, skim newspapers and magazines for appropriate articles to clip, and assemble information for speeches and pamphlets. Training typically lasts between one month and one year. After gaining experience, public relations specialists write news releases, speeches, and articles for publication or plan and carry out public relations programs.