Many factors critical to the success of an organization, such as its reputation, brand name, profitability, productivity, growth, and long term security are determined by the efficiency and efficacy with which it is able to reach and motivate its targeted customer base. The experts who are instrumental in this crucial endeavor are the public relations specialists within an organization.
Public relations professionals or firms in charge of managing the promotional campaigns or handling all the publicity for individuals or small organizations usually have to take care of all the aspects of the job without any external assistance. They are involved in making and sustaining contacts and relations, in formulating strategies and programs, and in preparing and disseminating all promotional materials. They tend to be directly engaged in all the advertising, sales promotion, and marketing work.
On the other hand if the organization is a large one, it heavily banks on its public relations experts to maintain a productive rapport not only with its customers and investors, but also the local community, social welfare groups, the media and even its own employees. PR experts act as the mouthpiece for the organization, intimating the world about the operations of the company, conveying corporate messages to the media, working in tandem with advertising firms to ensure that the company is being marketed and promoted as planned, and choreographing the organization’s liaisons with customers and local communities. PR experts also have to address and resolve any conflicts or contingencies arising out of failure in communications or coordination. They similarly manage the company’s press releases, cultivating and maintaining relationships with the media to ensure adequate, strategic, and favorable media coverage for the company.
Depending on the organization’s particular requirements, PR Specialists may be involved with any or all of the following:
- Media Relations
- Press Releases
- Press Conferences
- Media Tours
- Speaking Engagements (Coaching, Motivation)
- Interview Preparation and Training
- Relations with Government and Bureaucracy
- Employee Relations
- Investor Relations
- Reputation Management
- Crisis Management and Damage Control
Many well accepted ''Public Relations Process Models'' are available. Amongst the more preferred is the Sheila C. Crifasi, proposed in 2000, which uses the acronym ''ROSIE'' to designate a five-fold process comprising Research, Objectives, Strategies, Implementation, and Evaluation.
As with most professional services, the PR project begins with stocktaking and analysis. The objectives are formulated in consideration of the strategies planned to attain those goals. Media tools are chosen and devised accordingly. Implementation involves the preparation and release of promotional materials. Finally, in the Evaluation stage, the eventual success or failure of the said program is assessed.
The growth of the internet has greatly assisted work in the public relations domain. Emerging technologies have enabled the selection and accessibility of media tools having real time feedback that can provide immediate information on a program’s actual effectiveness.
Demands and Prospects
A public relations specialist’s job often requires extensive traveling and may require a fair amount of working on site. Similarly, working hours also need to be very flexible: long hours during crises and emergencies may be required when work may continue well into the wee hours, whereas at other times, the job may be pretty lax. Most of all, it requires patience and courage to face up to unforeseen challenges and to be ready to take the rough with smooth.
As a new recruit in a public relations post, you will initially have to work at the back office, preparing and maintaining the records of your company’s public profile and related activities. Gradually, you will be given the work of interacting with the press and your organization’s customers. With increasing experience, you will be entrusted with coordinating press releases, press conferences, and public events for your company under supervision. As you advance up the order, there are increasing opportunities of working autonomously: you will be preparing press releases and press kits, and be in charge of coordinating public relations programs and large events.
If you work in a small firm, you stand to gain a wider range of experience more quickly since there will be fewer people and everybody will be required to contribute according to the need of the hour in all activities and without any fixed specialization. Area specific specializations tend to be more rigid in larger firms. However, when you have attained a significant level of experience you could seek openings at a managerial level, where you could be placed as an account executive, senior account executive, account manager or even a vice president in the organization.
Becoming a Public Relations Specialist
Though the work of a public relations manager is pretty hectic and demanding, it does not require any very specific training or specialized qualifications. Technically speaking, anybody may apply, although most employers prefer some previous exposure or work experience; a college graduation degree also goes a long way to help secure a job. A sizable number of public relations recruits are college graduates majoring in journalism, mass communications, advertising, or public relations. Most students of these courses earn some valuable work experience while studying through internships or summer programs as trainees or understudies. Additional advantage may be secured if you can show experience in the same industry as your prospective employers. Further, you will be required to display a keen understanding of the through which the public could relate to the company, its products, and its services. You could try to contact professional bodies of public relations experts such as the Public Relations Society of America for further information.
If you are interested in a career as public relations specialist, you should try getting an accreditation from the Universal Accreditation Board or from the International Association of Business Communicators. This will be a definite advantage when you seek a job and help put you ahead of other applicants.
Emerging Trends and the Future of Public Relations Specialization
The necessity for professionally managed and planned public relations in the face of ever-increasing market competition is stoking an increasing demand for public relations specialists on the part of businesses, organizations, and institutions of all shades. Although the traditional measure of any organization’s value is in its balance sheet, its public image plays a great role in determining its market worth, making its continued success dependent on the quality of its public presence.
The present situation in the public relations sector job market is very competitive, with the number of applicants exceeding job availability. As a result, those with preferred college degrees like communication or journalism have a distinct edge. But it is certain that the escalating demand for corporate accountability fueled by the media, the public, investor lobbies, and the government, will continue to focus on the issue of building public confidence and a favorable public image. Since these are best managed by public relations professionals, job openings for public relations experts will continue to grow at a higher rate compared to other jobs.