Looking For a Job in PR? The Role of a PR Professional Today

24 Feb Looking For a Job in PR? The Role of a PR Professional Today

Earlier this year, US News and World Report issued two best job reports that ranked PR specialist among the nation’s best jobs – Best Creative Jobs in 2015 ranked it as number one and 100 Best Jobs put it at number 75.

Per the US News and World Report, predicts more than 45,000 new architects, PR specialists, and art directors will be needed this decade. What’s more, employment in public relations is expected to grow 12 percent between 2012 and 2022, with an addition of 27,000 jobs.

While public relations jobs top many of the fun or creative job lists, it also tops many of the most stressful lists, such as the Career Cast “Most Stressful Jobs of 2014.” Public relations executives rank number six on this list, right up there with airline pilot (#4), firefighter (#3), military general (#2), and enlisted military personnel (#1).

So what is a PR specialist anyway? A PR specialist creates and maintains a favorable public image for their employer or client. They write material for media releases, plan, and direct public relations programs. The role of a public relations professional has really expanded over the last few years to accommodate the changing media and marketing landscape. Here are a few roles someone interested in PR could look into.

Corporate Communications

Many organizations seek a head of communications to develop messaging objectives consistent with the organization’s goals. If the organization doesn’t hire an outside agency (and sometimes even if they do), they will look for a skilled professional who has experience with internal and external communications of all varieties – crisis, media relations, analyst relations, strategy, etc. This person often has a seat at the executive management table to recommend best practices or strategy in relaying company information to the public.

Crisis Communications

A crisis can hit in many forms – a high-profile oil spill for a major company like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a key member of the organization or company coming under public scrutiny, or a food product company dealing with contamination recall. Establishing methods and policies to be used if an emergency should strike is key for this position. This could include policies and procedures for the distribution of the information to employees, media, government, and other key audiences.

Public relations professionals decide how the organization will repair the damage to its image, communicate how it is dealing with the problem and regain control of its message. This position often deals with high-stress accounts and requires the ability to stay cool under pressure.

Social Media

An emerging ask of many public relation firms is to launch or maximize an organization’s use of social media to build or support its image. Managing a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, LinkedIn page, and a YouTube channel are all vital ways to connect with possible new customers or stakeholders. Monitoring public comments about the organization can also give early warnings of any emerging trends or problems.

This role popped a few years ago as a specialist position but is now moving toward being more a skill set that all PR professionals should have knowledge of rather than a position in and of itself. In addition, the management of social channels typically falls into the larger, overall PR strategy for the company.

Public Affairs

A person in this position communicates mostly with the government and groups highly involved in societal (public) policies, action, and legislation. Unlike government relations, where the practitioner works strictly on behalf of an organization, public affairs is concerned with the effect of public policies, actions and legislation on its publics

Community Relations

Organizations that have strong ties to the community often hire someone to be a liaison to the community in which they serve to build a continuing community relations program to be comprehensive and effective. While these programs aren’t important for all organizations, those focusing on improving community relations will need someone who can bridge the business/community gap and enhance the organization’s image and reputation.

Content Management and Messaging

A person in this role often manages all internal and external messaging to define the corporate narrative and brand image. The person that fills this position typically has exceptional writing capabilities and is able to author powerful and thought-provoking white papers, case studies, keynote presentations, and thought-leadership pieces in addition to other communication initiatives like rebranding.

These are just a few of the avenues a person could take when navigating their public relations career. PR can take on many forms within a company or agency and many companies roll their PR initiatives into communications or marketing departments. Likewise, many agencies have multiple employees who are specialized in certain areas or have a broad range of skill sets to serve individual client needs. Over time, a PR professional will hone their strengths and find roles that support what interests them most.


Jessica Lindberg
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