Media Profile: Public Relations Officer
Public Relations (PR) Officers use all forms of media to promote, build and maintain an organisation's image and reputation. Reputation and image are based on what
an organisation does, what an organization says and what others say about it. PR aims to manage reputation in order to gain understanding and support, and to influence opinion and behaviour.
PR officers can work for voluntary organisations, public bodies and businesses -- any organisation that has a reputation to manage. PR officers can work in an organisation's in-house public relations department or in a consultancy where they serve a number of clients.
Public relations overlaps with other fields including corporate communications, public affairs, investor relations, or media relations; so PR officers may be known by various other job titles depending on the employer.
On a day-to-day basis PR officers may be involved in one or more of the following activities:
Programme planning: analysing problems and opportunities; defining goals; recommending and planning activities and measuring results; liaising with management and clients throughout.
Writing and editing: since public relations often involves trying to reach large groups of people, the method most often used is the printed word. PR officers work on shareholder reports, annual reports, press releases, articles and features, speeches, booklets, newsletters.
Media relations: developing and maintaining a good working contact with the media. This involves applying knowledge of how local and national papers, magazines, radio and television work as well as the special interests of journalists.
Corporate identity: developing and maintaining an organisation's identity via corporate advertising, presenting the company's name and reputation rather than its products.
Speaking: communicating effectively with individuals and groups at events ranging from small meetings to presentations, speeches, trade fairs, and other special events.
Production: brochures, reports, film and multi-media programmes are important means of communication. PR officers also coordinate studio or location photography.
Special events: news conferences, exhibitions, facility celebrations, open days, competitions and award programmes are all used to gain the attention of specific groups. PR officers are often called on to plan and execute large events for their companies or clients.
Research and evaluation: the first activity undertaken by a public relations practitioner is usually analysis and fact gathering. A PR programme should be evaluated as a continuing process and measurement is used to decide future strategy.
Hours and Environment
PR officers usually work standard hours but they often need to work during evenings and weekends to attend PR events, meet deadlines or to handle crises.
Skills and Interest
To be a public relations officer you need:
There are no set entry qualifications for becoming a PR officer, but public relations is a very competitive industry. Many PR officers have an undergraduate degree.
The following degree subjects can also be useful for a career in PR:
There are many short-term and long-term options including a three-year degree in Media and
Communication at The University of the West Indies (www.uwimona.edu.jm/carimac), with a specialization in Public Relations.
There are also internationally-recognised professional accreditations that are issued by the International Business Communicators Association, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations or the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Be sure to check in which regions your accreditation will be valid.
Salary for new entrants start around the range of J$900,000 per year.
Source: Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies
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