Advantages Variety, Money and Excitement
Disadvantages Demanding and Tiring
It’s probably fair to suggest that everyone has an image of what Public Relations (PR) is and what is involved, be it a glamorous fast-paced career or something only Tony Blair and Max Clifford work in. There is a bit more too it than that, and maybe the best place is to start is with a definition and then describe what is involved:‘Creating, maintaining, and protecting reputation’ is maybe the best definition I can give, be it the reputation of a product such as the latest washing machine or maybe a famous celebrity or company.
How you go about managing that reputation? Usually through press releases, producing brochures and other printed materials, organising meetings, or other communicative techniques (the list is endless). The important thing to take on board now is that it is not direct advertising. Advertising is a separate marketing concept that usually runs in parallel to PR. Many people call PR ‘media relations’, it depends on the role, but media relations and speaking to journalists is part of the job. Ultimately you are part of the marketing team so you need to analyse what goals and objectives you want to meet, how best to meet them, execute your plan and then evaluate the success.
To get in you typically have to be a graduate. Many people though build a career in another industry and move into PR as a change. If you don’t have a degree it is possible to start on the administrative side of things and maybe get promoted up, although it is very hard to do.When joining the industry you have two options, having decided what sector you want to work in (IT, Finance, Health, Government and so forth) you have to decide whether you would like to work ‘in-house’ or in a ‘consultancy’. In the consultancy you work across several different projects and ultimately are there to meet your clients demands. You are though distant from your client and can therefore be critical and tell them what they should be doing. ‘In-house’ you are much closer to the organisation which immediately throws up some issues, for example internal relationships with colleagues and the boss. PR professional can move from ‘consultancy’ to ‘in-house’ and back again with relative ease. SKILLS NEEDED:
Communication skills: If your organising a conference you have to speak to the guy doing the catering, the guy laying out chairs, and then maybe a company’s managing director. It’s simple and easy to do but if you fail to put the point across effectively then you could have a problem to deal with.
There are some fundamental skills you need, or have to develop if you want to work in PR:
Writing skills: You need to have good, basic English skills, as you will be writing press releases and other materialsFlexibility: You will have to juggle several projects at once, and adapt your plans to others suggestions.
Teamwork: It just goes without saying you have to be able to work alongside others.The Pros and Cons of the job
Well the money is not bad, although it will depend on which field you work (IT may pay more than celebrity stuff), but I guess when you begin in the industry you could expect a salary of about 15-16K, rising to about 25K when you hit management level.Holiday allowance can be a bit tight, and pension schemes / bonuses vary a lot.
The job has variety; one day you may be stuffing envelopes with press releases, the next designing a brochure or organising a conference.You are not stuck to a desk the whole time and do get to do a bit of travelling, but rarely do you go abroad.
You may have to work long or unusual hours, if your working on a pitch for a client then you may not leave the office till midnight.Consultancy life demands high quality work created at break-neck speed, everything may seem to have to be done right now.
The job can be exciting, demanding, tiring and enjoyable.There are a lot of egos in PR and staff turnover can be high, each consultancy has there own unique culture and some people may need to move around until they find one which they are comfortable with.FURTHER INFORMATION
I don’t pretend for a moment that I have covered everything about PR, especially as hundreds of books have been written about it. I can only hope to skim the surface, so if you do want more information have a look at the Institute of Public Relations Website for a guide. www.ipr.org.uk
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