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When becoming a public relations specialist, what are companies or businesses looking for?

I came across the career in public relations and it piqued my interest. I would like to know what exactly pr has to do or can do.

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Tim’s Answer

Public relations can also be corporate communications in several organizations as well. Several senior executives in large firms have their own communications teams to drop press releases and blog posts, to then be shared on social channels. Most of these individuals have some sort of training in public relations, media and are generally story tellers. Worth looking into product marketing as well for the story telling cross over.
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Sonja’s Answer

Hi Laura,

If you are still in school, I would recommend taking a public relations course to see if this is something you feel like your skills would be appropriate for, and something you would enjoy. To be a strong public relations professional, you need solid writing skills - specifically AP Style -- and good project management skills, and you need to be comfortable working in a team and dealing with the public. Many options are available for people who choose a career in public relations - you can go into media relations, issues management, event strategy and management, community relations, investor relations, crisis management, etc. You can work for a PR firm, which will allow you to try different skills and work for different companies and industries, or you can go in house. Corporations have communications / PR departments who manage all facets of internal and external communications. If you are a strong writer and enjoy storytelling, PR might be a great option for you!
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Sarah’s Answer

PR helps manage perception and reputation with media/reporters on behalf of the company. This often includes writing press releases and media alerts for company initiatives and launches, earnings, customer and partner announcements, new products, etc. In addition to writing the releases and telling the stories PR teams "pitch" the stories to reporters. There are several types of media outlets (print, broadcast, blogs, video, etc) that all require specific information but the common theme is relationships! By having strong relationships with reporters, PR can be more successful on behalf of the company.

Sarah recommends the following next steps:

Be a consumer of media! Regularly read the news, follow your favorite reporters on social media
Muckrack is a good resource, too. As well as your local PRSSA chapter (if you're a student) or PRSA (if you're a professional)
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Kristen’s Answer

Public relations can be a number of different things depending on whether you work for an agency or are part of an in-house communications team at a company or organization. Your job may be to promote events and activities, promotions, and organization news by sharing it with news media and the general public through press releases, blogs and social media. Or, you may focus more on telling the story of an organization by writing features and serving almost as an internal news reporter. There is generally always some focus on media relations, developing relationships with key media in an effort to get regular news coverage of the organization.

Some PR professionals focus on specific areas of communications, such as crisis PR or event PR.

At an agency you may work with a number of clients doing different things for each, and may get to specialize in an area, such as working for tourism clients or tech clients. When that happens, you may have very different activities as part of your job. For example, I worked with tourism clients and would organize media familiarization trips where we'd organize a 5-day trip for media to come and experience the destination. We'd research journalists, send an invite/"pitch" to them suggesting a story or feature, handle all of the logistics and travel plans, serve as the tour organizers and point people, coordinate with destination partners, and host the journalists. We'd provide media packets with information on all of the tour activities so journalists would have details with which to write their follow up stories. Then we'd monitor media outlets, save the coverage and calculate the value of the media coverage to our clients.

Still other times in working with clients or as an internal PR person, you may serve as the "gatekeeper" of information and as a communications "coach," helping to craft how an organization should share information with the public. This could mean developing strategic key messages, confirming what cannot be shared (often due to corporate security or legal reasons), and coaching company leadership on speaking with the media.

PR is a fairly diverse field, but has a several required skills that can help you progress in your career: be a good writer; have excellent "people" skills and the ability to build and maintain relationships with all types of people; have the ability to think strategically and tactically and know when you should do each; be trustworthy. I'm sure there are many more.
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Olivia’s Answer

hi Laura!
First of all, Public Relations is all about interpersonal skills, so if you're an outgoing person, open to starting a conversation with strangers, and passionate about sharing ideas, and curious about learning new things, you'll be the most comfortable doing the job. Second, your communications skills (written and oral) must be impeccable - you must be able to get your message across in a clear way. Third, be persistent. PR requires some negotiation skills where you need to pitch your news and convince journalists your story is interesting to their readers. Besides an outgoing, persuasive personality, then a Mass Communications or Media Relations degree is desired by most major companies.

I feel a PR career is very fulfilling and rewarding. You get to learn about new things and meet new people each day. You'll also be able to get tangible results from your efforts when you'll see your story published.

Hope you can make the best decision career and most importantly, enjoy what you'll choose to pursue!
Best,
Olivia
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Barry’s Answer

Public relations specialists work with companies and organizations to help them communicate with the public. Sometimes they work for the company or organization and sometimes they work with a lot of different companies.

A public relations company will work with many different businesses.

For example, if you are watching your local news, you will often see a public relations specialist giving a statement to the public or news media. Recently, I watched a tv news report where the police were releasing information to the public on the news about a particular crime and the person giving the interview was the public relations specialist that works with the police department. You sometimes will see them called "Spokesperson" or something along those lines.

Public relations specialists work for colleges, city and county government agencies, and all sorts of businesses.
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Rekha’s Answer

Hi Laura-

A career in Public Relations (PR) at its core requires strong communication skills - both written and verbal. Being a versatile writer is a great asset, as you can seamlessly switch between industries (if you want to) or work for a PR agency that services clients (i.e. companies) across a variety of industries (e.g. tech, aviation, etc.).

Also, within PR, you can choose a specialty that resonates the most for you - whether that's product PR, crisis PR, financial PR or anything else.

Depending on the specialty you choose, the style of writing required varies - creative, formal, or technical.

Hope this helps. All the best! :)

Rekha recommends the following next steps:

Take an introductory PR course in person or a brief one online to assess if it feels right for you!
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