The purpose of a press secretary is to handle requests from newspaper, radio and television sources, to draft press releases or to write guest columns and speeches, and to organize events such as press conferences. In a political environment, this person would follow the direction provided by the incumbent or candidate that they represent. In a business environment, they would typically report directly to the President of the company or to the leader of the marketing department.
Common requirements for a press secretary are:
- Superior writing, editing and speaking abilities
- Able to produce text quickly and accurately
- Familiar with the press and what reporters require
- The ability to perform extensive research
- Poise in high-stress environments
It is often critical to develop good public relations with the media representatives as sometimes questions that need to be asked by the media can be difficult, pointed, or probing. A solid professional stance is required as the press secretary is somewhat reliant upon the reporters or other media sources to transfer the message to the general public. The old phrase ''Don't bite the hand that feeds you'' comes to mind, as making enemies in this position is in no one's best interest.
In their role, a press secretary will perform extensive research and have a good head for details. Often they will be required to cite a number of facts, figures, or to detail or outline a concept. Their ability to communicate these details effectively will make or break them in this type of position. High stress levels and a sense of urgency are two aspects of a press secretary's job that seem to be unavoidable. This is not a position for the timid. The need for excellent people skills comes with the territory.
As social media and the web become more and more popular, a press secretary should have easy access and knowledge in the use of mediums such as facebook or twitter. These are excellent ways to communicate details and events without having to spend a lot of money on traditional advertising campaigns or arranging formal press briefings. Access to a website is also a key methodology for providing update information on policies, procedures, or to simply relay facts.