What Would a Career in PR Entail?

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Do you have a particular knack for writing evocative press releases? Perhaps you love the thrill or organizing large-scale events and watching everything fall into place at the last moments? Maybe you simply strive to be a professional storyteller for an organization or business? Whatever the case, a career in the public relations field is highly diverse and offers numerous opportunities for people with varying degrees of interest.

Letter blocks spelling Public Relations

What does a PR professional do?

Depending on the industry or focus, the day in the life of a PR professional can look drastically different from person to person. Despite this diversity, on average, most PR specialists spend their days creating press releases, identifying and targeting key audiences, maintaining their clients’ public image, managing fundraising or grant efforts, fostering positive relationships with the media and gathering relevant data for the company or the media.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

What this means is that PR professionals are the gatekeepers to an organization, cause or political platform. They are responsible for not only protecting their clients brand but developing and maintaining quality relationships with people or entities that could benefit their clients.

Unfortunately, some perceive the PR field as being synonymous with advertising and marketing industries. While there is certainly overlap and lines have been blurred due to the advent of new technologies and methods, once you dive deeper into the profession, this misconception is far less convincing. After all, PR is a fast-paced industry full of surprises and challenges for anyone pursuing this specific career path.

A high-quality PR professional must wear numerous hats and master the art of several essential job tasks. Basically, you must be a creative storyteller, solid crisis manager, good relationship builder and truth teller.

As a storyteller, PR specialists must perfect the art of their communication skills. They are responsible for crafting an effective brand image or narrative, meaning that they must know how to successfully convey their message to a broad population. This isn’t limited by medium either. PR leaders today must be able to craft an exciting story in a variety of ways – from press releases to social media posts to video blogs and more.

As businesses frequently encounter difficult situations or government officials experience scandals, PR professionals must also be excellent crisis managers. It’s vital for PR decision makers to have a plan of attack or defense should their clients go through a short or long-term setback. It’s not about spinning an alternative tale, but it is more about acknowledging the problem and publicly coming to a positive resolution. This strategy goes hand in hand with being an effective truth teller and relationship builder.

What kind of jobs could you get?

Public relations is a highly flexible field in terms of job prospects. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of open PR jobs should rise by 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, this is the time for potential professionals to explore and apply for various PR jobs. So exactly what kind of jobs can one get with a strategic PR master’s degree? Depending on the company, location and various other factors, PR majors can benefit from a wide variety of career options.

Ambitious job seekers may look at government agencies or major corporations with multiple career development opportunities. Those interested in higher education may consider working as a PR representative for a university or private learning institution. Nonprofit organizations also require knowledgeable PR professionals to spearhead certain campaigns or draw public focus to key issues, situations or causes.

With a PR degree, you can work as a PR specialist, account executive, marketing assistant, event coordinator, PR manager, media planner, marketing coordinator and any other job within the PR and marketing fields. Whether you wish to become a fundraising manager for a nonprofit or a high-level marketing director for a large corporate chain, there are plenty of jobs for interested professionals.

What skills do you need to possess to succeed?

Being a good PR specialist involves developing a mix of professional and personal skills. PR workers must be excellent writers and communicators. Even though there are numerous mediums and methods for PR employees to convey their message today, they still must be able to write provocatively. No one will read a press release, watch an informative video or subscribe to a social media feed if the content is low quality or boring.

As important as having professional-level writing skills are, PR leaders must also be able to be patient and remain calm in high-pressure situations. The field is more than just having the right professional skills to succeed, it’s about having the right personality and mindset for the job, as well. After all, what would happen if PR directors were unable to control their nerves during a major press conference? Or do you think entry level PR assistants would succeed if they were coming across as being overly aggressive?

Depending on what company or in what field you intend to work, you will need to hone different skill sets. Despite this variation, most experts believe that being good with technology, multitasking, critical thinking and communicating are foundational skills all PR professionals should have if they hope to succeed in their field.
Microphones in front of a conference hall

How can you thrive in the PR field today?

Press releases are still an integral component in the PR process today, yet they are no longer the most effective way to convey messages or meaning to the general public. Today, PR professionals are getting creative and using new technology to revolutionize the field and stay relevant, despite mounting market pressures. People are highly tech-driven and demand authenticity, making it imperative for PR specialists to create and follow new strategies to connect with their audiences.

One of the first ways you can thrive in PR today is to concentrate on the content you are producing. Focus on quality over quantity and tailor your content toward the particular audience you are trying to connect with. The majority of people today crave transparency from their political leaders, corporations and public figures. Make your content honest and as authentic as possible to draw in these crowds.

Another way to be successful in PR is to fully embrace social media and new technology. Many companies are turning to social media live streaming features or video blog campaigns to attract a new generation of consumers and stakeholders. If you want your message to go viral and reach a wider audience, it’s important to leverage social media effectively to release impactful micro campaigns.

Today’s consumers are more likely to trust or do business with a company that has an interactive, exciting web presence rather than one that is stuck in old traditions or is still tweeting like it’s 2008. Technology and how people use technology changes daily, which is why it is essential for PR leaders to keep up to date with current trends and news.

Within this same line of thought, it is also vital for PR professionals to use analytics and metrics to track how well their campaigns are performing. This way, you will be able to replicate what you are doing right and discard any strategies that are failing to connect with your target audience. The PR field is centered around building lasting relationships with clients and the general public. So what better way is there to foster these relationships than by paying attention to data about their interests, preferences and more?

If you want to have a successful career in public relations, an online Master’s in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University may be just the professional development you were searching for.

Sources:
PR in 2016 Infographic
What is Public Relations?
What Does A Public Relations Agency Do?
What Can You Do With a Public Relations Major?
About Public Relations
What It Takes to Be a PR Person
What Does a PR Professional Do?