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Public relations officer

Uses a wide range of media to build and sustain good relationships between the employing organisation and its clients through planned publicity campaigns and PR activities.

Job description

Public relations (PR) is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain lines of communication between an organisation and its publics. PR uses the editorial space within print publications, websites, television and radio shows to communicate a brand’s message. Essentially it is about managing reputation. Career opportunities exist in two areas: consultancy and in-house.

Public relations consultancies offer advice and services to a wide range of organisations. Most consultancies offer a wide range of services and areas of expertise, while others may specialise in a particular area such as consumer PR, corporate PR or public affairs.

Positions can also be found in-house in public, private and non-profit making organisations. In-house PR officers will be responsible for both internal and external communications and, while the skills required are the same as those for consultancy, in-house practitioners can and need to develop an in-depth knowledge of their organisations and its business environment to a level not possible for an external consultant.

Work activities

  • Writing promotional material and press releases.
  • Producing brochures, leaflets and videos.
  • Organising press briefings and news conferences.
  • Attending or setting up exhibitions and conferences.
  • Project-managing product launches.
  • Gathering, distributing and filing all media coverage generated for clients.
  • Analysing coverage and tracking emerging issues using digital tracking on, for example, websites or blogs of interest to their clients.
  • Assisting with props or sets for a photo-shoot or assisting in setting up an event such as a client meeting or a press briefing.

Work conditions

Travel: during working day can be frequent.
Working hours: can involve regular unsocial hours.
Location: mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: commonly possible (can be self-employed or work on a freelance basis).

Typical employers

  • PR consultancy firms
  • Large corporate organisations
  • Charities
  • Political parties.

Career development

The usual career progression is from account executive to account manager to account director. In some workplaces other levels and terms are also used, eg client manager.

Salaries

Salaries will vary depending on employer and location.

Salary guidelines for the Republic of Ireland are available on the Public Relations Institute of Ireland website.

In Northern Ireland, starting salaries range from £16,000 to £25,000 and rise to £30,000 with a few years' experience. Senior management positions, such as PR director or head of corporate affairs, can range from £40,000 to £100,000.

Specific degree subjects required

Open to non graduates and graduates of all disciplines.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Public relations
  • Marketing
  • Communication
  • Journalism.

Postgraduate study

There are a number of postgraduate courses available.

Training

A number of PR consultancy firms in the UK run graduate trainee schemes.

Tips for application

For anybody going into the industry it is important to be aware of social media and other communication tools such as blogs, wikis and podcasts. Try to get work experience in any ‘communications’ orientated organisation – PR consultancy, design company, advertising agency or marketing department.

Skills and qualities

  • Excellent verbal, written and presentation skills.
  • Excellent organisational, scheduling and planning skills.
  • Ability to juggle different priorities and meet deadlines.
  • Awareness of current affairs and a passion for finding out new information.
  • Creativity.
  • Self-confident and sociable – ability to network effectively.
  • Team player.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Stamina, energy and drive.
  • Ability to handle pressure.
  • Achievement orientated and results driven.