Career Profile: Public Relations
Public relations (PR) is a field that finds itself in the center of chaos most of the time. Public relation professionals work with the media to gain press on a particular subject. It is a profession that is responsible for releasing tailored, deliberate media communications to journalism mediums that circulate their announcements for them to the public. Often times, people refer to public relations and advertising as one in the same but they are not. Advertising references purchasing advertising space in specific media channels, such as television or radio and branding their company or product. Whereas public relations works to develop relationships with media outlets that will publish and promote their company, product, or announcement, independent of any advertising costs for doing so.
Public relations chief goal is to represent their company or client in the most positive light to the media, customers, and other audiences. Public relations is charged with reaching a target market regarding some type of announcement that will be of relevant interest to that particular population. The most effective way to do this is through media channels that will reach that respective group that hey are looking to communicate with. In addition to working with the media, public relations professionals also work on events and other projects aimed at garnering attention and visibility of their company to the client.
As a profession, public relations is always conscious of what types of messages are being sent by their company or client and make strategic moves to ensure that it is aligned with the image they are trying to create or maintain. Since public relations participates so heavily in getting the media to take interest in their subject, the majority of a public relations professionals day is spent finding ways to appeal to media outlets. Often times press releases, proposed story angles, and noteworthy events are the most popular directions PR people pursue to gain media attention.
A career in public relations can be exciting, challenging, and at times exhausting. People who enter the profession can find opportunities working with a PR firm, such as leaders like Burson-Marsteller and Fleishman-Hillard or working in the communications department of a large company. Similar to attorneys, public relations professionals may specialize in a particular area, such as entertainment, or may be more generalized and represent different industries and companies.
Beginning a career in PR requires working from the bottom up in positions like a PR coordinator who acts as a support person to more senior PR employees. With experience, many PR people move into roles such as account executives, directors, or media relations where you work exclusively with the press, pitching ideas. Other public relations professionals may venture off on their own and start their own firm, or work in government in the public affairs division of a state or federal office.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in public relations is expected to grow faster than average. Though competition will remain tight, more and more companies are soliciting the services of public relations professionals to manage their public image, especially with the advent of blogs and other social media outlets that transcend traditional modes of media.
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