I frequently get asked about the PR field. Last time, the conversation took place with a 20-something-year-old who’s hesitant about what to do next in this life.
– I was thinking to go for PR, if I can’t find anything that I like to do. How do I know if I’ve got what it takes? What’s the job? What do you actually do? How did you start?, they usually ask.
My reply is – ‘I didn’t choose PR, PR chose me.’ Basically, because it’s true. It all started as an extra thing to do besides university, in order to earn my own money. And I got really lucky this way, I admit it.
It was my second year at university and I got this question – ‘We saw you were passionate about Facebook, how would you like managing our business page as a job?’. Now, passionate is a special way of describing my Facebook skills. I was basically obsessed… All day, every morning till night, I was online on Facebook. I posted about everything, sharing things that I liked or found interesting. My day would be defined by the time between the new and the old posts in my news feed. But I said – hey, I’ll give it a try. And so I started learning about the professional way of using Facebook. Yes, it all started with Social Media for me, and then my duties got bigger and bigger. I would manage all the online accounts and then even got to the offline part – events, meetings, gatherings, projects. Anything that had to do with representing the company I worked for, a dental clinic in Bucharest.
PR is easily defined by its name, yes – it is about managing the connections between the company you represent and the public. As a PR, you are responsible for the image and reputation perceived by the community. Your tasks consist of establishing, implementing and maintaining multiple ways of communication, as well as strong relationships with the media reps.
A PR officer can find his/hers place whether in an agency/PR consultancy firm or as an in-house specialist. The PR agencies enjoy the benefit of offering a wide range of services in many areas of expertise, but they can also concentrate on a particular field, such as consumer or B2C (business-to-consumer) PR, corporate or B2B (business-to-business) PR or just general public affairs.
In-house specialists can be found both in public or private sectors, but also in non-profit organizations. They are in charge for both internal and external communications and will face a challenge bigger than a PR consultant, given the fact that for this role, an in-depth knowledge of the field and business environment is needed.
I was an in-house PR officer in the dental field and even though my knowledge of actual medicine was limited, I found it amazing! My motivation came from learning new things, on a level that it makes sense for the future. I took part in dental interventions that showed pure anatomy. And with it, along came the struggle. As an outsider, I was highly impressed. As the employee of the clinic, I was taught basic dental activity. But as a PR specialist, I had to find the right way of putting into words an intervention that seems scary to the public. Challenging enough? This is a level apprehension not possible for an external PR.
Qualifications & Background
As any other field, some study is required. The most relevant fields would be:
- Public Relations
- Journalism, Communication and/or Media
- Creative Writing
- Social Sciences.
I come with a background of Psychology and a passion about Communication and people – what drives them, what motivates them, etc.
Passion is much more important than whatever degree you’ve got. Passion is the first thing people read when they see you, and trust me when I say that you won’t have your degree subject written on your forehead.
One way for an employer of any kind to be sure of your passion is providing a history of volunteer work or internships. The no-pay or low-pay activity gives them an idea of how up you are for gaining experience. Subsequently, there are trainings, workshops and courses you can attend in order to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the field.
This is it – you either have it or you don’t:
- Amazing verbal and written skills
- Self-confidence, excellent presentation and networking skills
- Attention to detail
- Patience and great interpersonal skills
- Ability to handle pressure and juggle with different priorities and deadlines
- Drive, flexibility, pro-active attitude, open-mindedness and willingness to learn new things
- Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Excellent organizational and planning skills
- Business orientation.
Activity & Responsibilities
If you’ve made it to this point, now it gets real. PR is never just PR. PR has a way of asking for some Marketing skills, Event Planning, Budget Planning, Social Media or even Project Management talent.
Still here? Good, let’s see what this is all about.
Your work tasks may include, but wouldn’t be limited to:
- Plan, develop, implement PR strategies
- Set up the PR budget and needs
- Create and maintain a favorable image and reputation of the company/brand/organization
- Build relevant relationships with the media reps
- Write press releases and promotional materials
- Market research
- Develop a Social Media strategy
- Create new business opportunities
- Attend and/or plan events, press conferences, open-days and/or exhibitions
- Create a PR crisis strategy
- Update information on any online platform
- Constantly search to grow the contact list
- Manage projects and/or product launches
- Coordinate photo opportunities
- Manage sponsorship and/or partnership opportunities
- Write and edit all written communications – articles, speeches, case studies, reports
- Manage the logistics of brochures, leaflets and/or videos.
FYI – For Your Info
These are just a few of the PR needs of any company, brand or organization. They may vary when working in a team, but just be prepared.
- PR specialists are usually office-based, but the duty might also involve travel when meeting clients or potential clients, suppliers or partners
- The dress-code is usually smart, unless a certain event says otherwise
- Working hours may vary and involve unsocial hours
- The career ladder can go from PR Assistant to Manager and then to Senior
- Salaries do vary, depending on the career level, location and employer.
With that being said, it is important to know that PR presents a fierce competition when it comes to jobs in the field, for women and men equally. With the glamorous picture aside, a great significance should be given to both the pressure and the reward of choosing a career in this field.