There has never before been as wide a variety of areas in which one can play a key role as in the area of public relations.
Following is a partial list of the different areas in which a properly trained professional can work as a public relations specialist: public affairs, community relations, public information, media relations, public opinion, government relations, political campaigns, consumer affairs, commercial business, and research and statistics.
Journalism is still a fertile training ground for people who wish to become public relations professionals. Most of all, it teaches you to make sure that you communicate in a clear and precise fashion. And no public relations specialist can exist without the requisite skills in communication.
Today, many journalists move freely into the public relations field. Top journalists from the major daily newspapers become spokespeople for the highest government officials, and following government service, they either return to daily journalism or enter the public relations field. Some join the internal public relations departments of major corporations, while others join public relations firms.
When one decides that he or she wants to become a professional public relations practitioner, he or she no longer has to begin training on the job. Formal education begins at the college or university level.
A Sample Publicity Timetable
Marketing publicity is flexible and can be molded to a strategic timetable, city by city. For example, a plan for a twice-a-year major toy company publicity blitz to be personally conducted in twenty key toy markets might work as follows:
Select a personable toy consultant from the toy company staff and work with that person to develop interview story lines that fit the parental concerns: how to look for safety in toys or how to use them for furthering education in the home.
Book interviews in advance by telephone and by mail stating that this toy expert will be in town for two or three days and is prepared to discuss and demonstrate toy topics and new toy developments. This technique capitalizes on the growing trend of local media to reach for national personalities in local settings in order to compete more successfully with the national media.
Upon arriving in a major city, the expert's itinerary is booked with interviews on television and radio talk shows, homemaker shows, and listener call-in programs, as well as with the women's editors of newspapers and local columnists. Suggest in advance the types of questions that will generate interesting responses or add something to interpretations of current news, like what's happening in the consumer movement. Distribute a press kit including such items as a background corporate report on the toy company, a fact sheet, a description of new toy refinements, color transparencies for Sunday newspaper editions, and other items to stimulate ideas.
Planned interview topics lead naturally to the use of toys and to illustrate points. Show for example, how the company goes to the extra expense to sew a bow on a doll, instead of using a pin. Test marketing can also be adapted to this key market procedure.
Thus the general procedures of the profession may be used in marketing a particular product or service. One thing should be clear: selling a product involves a great deal of preparation, both in advance and at the point of purchase.