Public Relations — It is All About Image

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The field of public relations (also known as PR) is the perfect career for those who love writing as well as working with the public. PR jobs can be exciting and fast-paced, but they also have their share of stress due to the many deadlines PR specialists deal with on a daily basis.

Job Responsibilities

The main responsibility of a PR specialist is to find ways to enhance the public image of an organization, whether a private corporation or a government agency. They do this through marketing campaigns that include press releases sent to broadcast and print media outlets, and through articles sent to publications that are read by a particular target audience. They may also have to coordinate multimedia presentations in front of the public at events like political conventions and community or school meetings.

PR specialists need to know how to handle ''damage control'' in times of disaster, such as when something goes wrong with a company product or employees are injured in a factory accident. In cases like this, press conferences are often called so that the media can be informed of the facts, which then are distributed to the public.

Maintaining good relations with media contacts is important since those contacts can influence how smoothly media events are publicized. But PR specialists also need to be good at communicating with executives and support staff in their own organization. Marketing, operations, finance, and sales are only a few of the departments that need to be considered whenever a PR specialist begins a new marketing campaign.

Where Are the Jobs?

PR jobs are everywhere, but most of them require a four-year college degree. Experience in this field often begins with an internship – something students take on while completing their bachelor's degree in public relations, advertising, journalism, or communications. Networking opportunities after graduation can be found in organizations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

Very important in any job search in this field is a portfolio of published articles, press releases, and any multimedia presentations or broadcast (radio and/or TV) programs the applicant may have done. Potential employers also want to see that job candidates have proven themselves in times of stress such as tight deadlines.

Entry-Level Positions

Sometimes a college graduate's first taste of PR work in the ''real world'' is not an internship, but as a PR assistant. PR assistant jobs offer novices an excellent opportunity to see what the world of public relations is all about.

PR assistants usually work with a senior PR manager, and are often responsible for establishing good relationships with the media, vendors, and those who are considered part of the company's target audience. They also work closely with internal staff, and help the marketing staff come up with creative marketing strategies.

Strong management skills are one of the requirements for PR assistant jobs. Experience working in a PR firm is a plus too, along with good oral and written communication skills.

PR Agencies

Not all graduates aspiring for a career in public relations end up in large companies. Many are hired by PR agencies.

One advantage of PR agency jobs is variety. Instead of working for only one company, PR specialists in an agency deal with several companies, each of whom has hired that agency to help promote them. Through research, the PR specialist needs to figure out what the public's current opinion is of the company he or she is representing. If it does not match the company's desired image, the specialist begins a PR campaign to improve that image.

Sports PR Jobs

One of the most enjoyable types of PR positions, especially for sports enthusiasts, is a sports PR job.

Working as a PR specialist in the field of sports is especially important when representing a professional sports team. Public image is everything to teams, and because sports PR jobs require monitoring individual players as well as the team as a whole, sports PR officers sometimes need to put in long hours at their jobs.

Those seeking employment in this specialized area are most likely to find it in some type of sports organization, including training institutions and retailers. As with other types of PR, sports PR requires someone who has a degree in PR, media, or advertising. However, sports PR jobs also require a strong knowledge of the sports market and sports in general. At least three or four years of experience is required in either the sports sector or PR sector.

PR Job Lists

Those who are seeking jobs in the field of public relations have a lot of options open to them. One is through job listings with organizations such as PRSA and IABC. Another is through online job searches like PRCrossing.

One new site that is a great resource for PR jobs is PRCrossing. In addition to an extensive list of PR jobs that are available around the world, the site tells site visitors exactly how many PR jobs are available, as well as how many new ones were added that week.

Once you have found a good PR jobs list, start making those contacts. And don't forget to bring your portfolio!
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