"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.
Public relations is an exciting field, albeit a bit overwhelming at times. Most PR reps have assistants and sometimes entire departments for their support. With so many media reports, proposals, event coordination and other events, an assistant is vital, especially in larger companies. As with most executives, the assistant is the one who makes sure meetings are attended, flights are caught and engagements are kept.
For those who choose Public Relations, most thrive on the fast pace and even the stress that is involved with walking the fine line of responsibilities to the public as well to their employers. They must be organized, able to speak with authority and clarity and a healthy knowledge of psychology is always a bonus. Human nature plays a big part in these positions. Hours are long, but rewarding, and deadlines are always looming.
Educational requirements vary by company, but most who have degrees are usually in communications and business areas, or sometimes journalism. Even then, most employers are more interested in their skills and experience as much as the education of their candidates. For those who are wondering if jobs will be available or not, the answer is an absolute yes. In fact, the job outlook is considered excellent for all fields related to public relations.
For those who do not mind unpredictable events, long hours, travel, and can work well under stress, public relations is often a first choice. The pay is excellent but determined by many factors, mostly the size of the company and its budget. It is both rewarding and exciting.
One final note, in a survey done in late 2006, 87 percent of all companies surveyed indicated a growing need for a solid public relations specialist and / or department. Of those, more than two-thirds anticipated adding to their staffs within twelve months. The trends from 2008 reflect those anticipated changes as more companies, even as they were undergoing lay-offs due to current economic times, found themselves adding to their staffs those who could improve the company's public image.