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Opportunities to Learn About Public Relations in a Secretarial Position

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If you want to learn the many skills necessary for a job in public relations, start out as a secretary working with good public relations people.

Working with various executives who deal with different accounts, you pick up knowledge on a broad range of subjects and how to present that knowledge in a clear, concise way. If you can absorb what you type, you learn what goes into a sales proposal, an outline for a new program, continuing work reports to clients, budgets and pitch letters to media. If you are lucky enough to work for a talented writer, you can see for yourself how an exciting lead paragraph can draw you into a letter and make you believe in the concept or company under discussion.

Secretaries are liaisons between their bosses and clients or solicitors. You have to understand the needs of your bosses and be a buffer between them and the people wanting to talk to them. You have to give out the right information without telling too much. Finesse is developed in handling people over the phone or in person. As a public relations executive, a good phone personality helps in setting up media dates, and the skill of dealing with people cannot be stressed too much as a basic skill in public relations. The contacts made as a secretary can be continued as you progress to the executive level or perfect your secretarial skills.

Accuracy is one of a secretary's most important attributes. An error-free job of proofreading will win you praise when you save a client money because the copy for a brochure doesn't need to be corrected. Attention to all the details your bosses throw at you can be a good training ground for later work in public relations when it is your responsibility to make sure all the divergent strands of an event or report come into place.

Secretarial skills must be mastered before you think of learning the executive's job. That means knowing the rules of grammar and punctuation and how to spell, which will help if you eventually become a writer. Also, good secretaries are expected to edit the copy they type. That doesn't give one free rein to change the tone or style of a letter or proposal, but means correcting a word or two that are repeated too often or used in an incorrect manner. Being a secretary is one of the best ways to learn about the English language.

Design and presentation of materials are important in public relations. Secretaries use words and layout whenever they arrange a letter on a page or organize a sales package. Working with suppliers to get a release printed acquaints you with design firms and typesetters. Making sure the printed material arrives on time helps you understand the importance of deadlines.

In this age of changing technology, secretaries are the first in an office to learn about word processing, computers and audio-visual equipment. They are the people in the forefront of what a future office will become.

A good job will enable a secretary to contact hotels and restaurants to set up meetings, arrange travel schedules to conform to media tours, learn about research and reference manuals, become aware of the various ways to get materials somewhere in time, keep track of details, and acquire general knowledge on a variety of subjects. You can pick up the skills to handle people with ease and become able to change a load of papers, notes and photographs into a package of understandable and good-looking material. You can become the type of person who can take information and present it in a way that can communicate its message. In other words, a public relations secretary can develop in the job to become the raw material needed for a good public relations executive.
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