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Role and Requirements for Public Relations Professionals

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers."

Those words, spoken by historian Daniel Boorstin, have never been truer than in today's corporate climate. Those who are dedicated to their public relations careers find themselves always "on"; always working to promote their company. They miss no opportunities to ensure the message is heard at every turn. Gone are the days of public relations being solely for the celebrities.

PR, or public relations, is a must for large companies, however, many feel their PR departments are the "cure all" and fix any public scandal or problem that emerges. This simply is not true. A good PR person can certainly affect the public's view on the company announcements. From being accused of hiring illegal immigrants to a very public and scandalous affair among company leaders, the public relations department can often determine how it plays out in the media and ultimately how quickly it becomes yesterday's news. It's not surprising that experienced PR personnel usually do quite well when negotiating salaries and bonuses.

The better the relationship between your company's PR department and the media, the more advantageous it is for the corporation. If you cannot depend on your public relations representative to successfully pull off a media release regarding labor relations or any other uncomfortable event, then it is time to reconsider your choice for your company's media contact. To say this person must be likeable, convincing, authoritative and even physically attractive is an understatement. It is an unwritten and unspoken rule, personal appearance including being healthy, "camera friendly," and physically attractive counts.

PR specialists have many titles, including public affairs representatives, communications agents, company points of contact and many others; but it still comes down to the one person who acts as the liaison between a company and the general public. He or she must be well versed, objective, convincing, remain cool under pressure and must, at all times, provide thorough information.

It is a fine line between revealing too much about any particular subject while providing enough not to appear as though anything is being hidden from the public. Often, the PR representative is the bearer of bad news, but there are many times your company PR agent provides good news from a company standpoint. New contract awards, which translate into new jobs; expansion announcements and other information that is of the public's interest offset the times when bad news is broken.

Other responsibilities of a public relations specialist include research, providing input for company manuals, including employee guidelines, remaining current with global issues to ensure company representatives aren't traveling to unstable international areas, coordinate company films for new employees, schedule conventions and tradeshows and many write bid proposals for their companies. Many PR reps find themselves providing statistics and other confidential information during shareholders meetings and staff meetings.

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