As a public affairs professional, you will perform highly important services to a corporation, non-profit organization or government agency. You will essentially serve as an organization's "ambassador." You will be required to develop and maintain positive and productive relations with the media, consumers, related government agencies, and community leaders, organizations and the public at large. You also be relied upon to develop strategies and responses to any crisis situation that could adversely impact the organization.
Scope of Resposibilities
Public affairs professionals develop communications strategies to deal with various audiences. This can include the media, board members, investors, community members and government agencies. Your skills, creativity and expertise will be called upon to provide strategic thinking, planning and solutions.
Tasks will range from writing press releases and addressing media inquiries, to developing annual reports for investors and the board of directors. A public affairs executive might even be required to appear and speak before Congress.
Most often, you will join the public relations or corporate responsibility department of the organization. Corporate responsibility is now widely used within corporations to combine overall corporate efforts on everything from investor, media and community relations to diversity and hiring practices to what the company is doing to demonstrate green or "earth-friendly"sustainable environment practices.
Required Skills Set and Capabilities
You must demonstrate strong communications skills--both written and verbal. You must be great at conducting research, preparing for media questions and interviews, providing "talking points" for executives to deliver and vigilant about fact-checking data and sources.
In many regards, public affairs professionals serve as opinion shapers. They have to provide succinct answers to questions posed by the media, respond to government inquiries and address consumer groups and members of the community.
Most public affairs professionals have (at least) a bachelor's degree, with a major in public relations, journalism, communications or advertising.
Who Hires Public Affairs Professionals
Corporations hire public affairs professionals to maintain a positive image among consumers and users of their products and services. Because their role and function is directly tied to the organization's overall mission and goals, they often report to upper and senior level managers and executives.
Government, non-profit organizations, trade associations, lobbyists and special interests heavily rely on public affairs professionals. This is because their "product" is typically of a public nature. Professionals in these types of organizations must be able to interact with a diverse range of people. The performance of the public affairs representative can often make or break the achievement of a desired outcome, be it to acquire funding, advance a cause, gain public support or promote legislation.
Job positions are typically found within an organization's pubic affairs, public relations, communications, government relations, media relations, advertising, marketing or community relations department..
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for public relations specialists was $51,280 in May 2008.
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