How Can I Become A Public Relations Specialist?
"Whenever I look at how the spokesperson of some companies handle the bad media publicity targeted towards them, I say to myself that I could have done a better job. I have always wanted to work as a spokesperson in a large company so I want to prepare for this kind of career well. Can you please tell me how I can become a public relations specialist?"
asked by Dianne M. from Boise, Idaho
Public relations specialists are responsible for creating and maintaining the image and reputation of the company they work for. The information and materials they release to the media are geared towards one purpose—that of shaping public opinion and informing them about the firm’s goals.
To gain a foothold in this industry, aspiring public relations need to complete a bachelor’s degree, preferably in public relations. Degrees in journalism, business or English are also acceptable. These programs do not only train and teach students that would prepare them for a public relations career, it also enables them to build a portfolio that would showcase their ability to potential employers.
It also gives them the opportunity intern at a public relations company or in the public relations department of a corporation. This experience can beef up their credentials and help them land a position as a public relations specialist. In addition to internships, employers will be on the lookout for students who are active in extra-curricular activities which enable them to lead a group or hone their writing skills.
The entry-level job of a public relations specialist is not immediately going to be at the spotlight where they represent the company in press briefings and answer interviews. Rather, they will be asked to keep files of materials pertaining to its activities. They will watch out for media coverage and write-ups about the company and get information that the firm may use for its publicity materials or for the speeches of its top executives.
Only after sufficient exposure will they be allowed to start writing press releases, articles for magazines and other print and online publications or speeches of company representatives. They will also be tasked to head a public relations campaign.
To succeed in this job, aspiring public relations specialists need more than just a degree and work experience. They need to be able to cultivate friendly relations with others, especially those outside of the organization, to promote the company’s positive image. Because this role will require a lot of speaking engagements, they need to be able to choose the right words when it comes to explaining the company’s stand on certain matters.
The same goes for writing material for the company. They must know how to use engaging yet succinct material to get the attention of busy clients.
Aspiring public relations specialists also need to show that they are capable of handling different tasks effectively. They must be highly-organized and efficient. Finally, they should have keen problem-solving skills. When the company is facing a serious issue that could seriously impact its image, a public relations specialist should employ sound judgment in how the matter should be reported to the public and the steps taken to address the issue.