Public relations specialists assist organizations and individuals with building and maintaining a positive public image. This often includes developing press releases and drafting speeches. They act as firm representatives to the news media and organize official public appearances and events. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most specialists work in advertising or public relations firms. However, they can find employment in a variety of different organizations and industries, including business firms, nonprofits, or hospitals. Freelance professionals work directly with independent clients.
A 4-year bachelor’s degree in a PR-related area like journalism, marketing, or communications is frequently required for entry-level positions. Many colleges/ universities offer specific public relations certificate programs or majors. Individual courses in public relations or business communication, in addition to liberal arts and writing core, also suffice. Completing an internship while in school can greatly improve an individual’s job prospects.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines PR as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Public Relations Consultant
A public relations consultant is a communications specialist who works as an intermediary between the public and an organization or business. The organization is dependent on the public relations consultant to effectively disseminate and communicate its mission, policies, and goals to the public. Additionally, these consultants inform a business of the public’s worries and expectations to help the business maintain a positive relationship with the public.
This is the area where PR professionals track and manage the company or client’s image on social media platforms. They use social listening tools to gauge the company’s public reputation and to bolster it. They interact with their social media following, make company announcements on social media, and find social media influencers to promote their brand.
Public relations are one way to build trust and credibility for firms in the financial services sector. To build trust through public relations, financial services corporations need to have an active voice in media and online. Using traditional media relations tactics, PR professionals can help financial services executives earn positive media exposure. For instance, they can position the executive as a thought-leader in the industry through interviews with financial news websites and talk radio shows in key markets.
Here are some of the scenarios when a person, company, or organization needs a PR specialist to restore the entity’s reputation:
- How does an organization handle in-house fraud?
- What does a hotel manager do when one of the guests finds bedbugs and decides to release a video that goes viral?
- How do you handle the situation when patients’ trusted physician is embroiled in a publicized scandal?
These are just a few examples that require the service of a PR professional to deflect bad news and/or events.
This is not a reference to a weather disaster. Disaster occurs when a company’s image or brand becomes severely tarnished. For example, an automobile manufacturer suffers a recall. PR specialists know how to change public perception with the right words and marketing campaigns. They also know that aligning their clients with the right strategies can help to alleviate many issues that come with a public crisis.
PR experts need to evaluate the background of the company, the nature of the current disaster, and the surrounding context so that they can offer a systematic guide on managing the incident.
The underlying principle of community relations is to project a company or organization’s role as a good corporate citizen. Through a PR campaign, the entity impresses on the public its active interest in the well-being of the community. In return, the company gains a number of long-term benefits in terms of community support, loyalty, and good will.
For example, philanthropic initiatives can boost a company’s image in the eyes of the public who are potential customers. It is for this reason that a company uses PR tactics. The company develops relationships to help foster its good name while the community receives support from its initiatives.
In a publication called Everything-PR/Public Relations News, they reported in May 2016 that towns and cities all over the country are either adding a PR person to their staff or increasing the number of staff in their PR departments. Usually, in government positions, PR representatives either are communications specialists or in a public affairs function.