In a competitive business environment where a positive reputation can give organizations an edge over competitors, public relations specialists are indispensable. These professionals manage the public image of an organization by facilitating communication with the public, maintaining positive media relations and developing promotional strategies. Public relations specialists may work as employees in companies and PR agencies. Others establish independent consultancy firms and provide services to several clients.
Doing the Work
Because public relations consultants usually deliver presentations and speak at private meetings and public forums, they need superior speaking skills to deliver perfect speeches. Writing skills are also key, particularly when drafting media materials. Public relations specialists must have strong interpersonal skills to be open and friendly to the public, and problem-solving skills to create appropriate solutions to PR challenges, such as minimizing the effects of a labor strike.
When an organization wants to release information to the public, customers or shareholders, it is the public relations consultant who writes high quality press releases that are sent to media firms. The public relations specialist may also craft a response to a specific concern that comes to the company's attention. For example, if a community group complains that the company has not invested much money into community projects, a PR consultant may write an op-ed article in the newspaper in response.
Public relations consultants develop strategies to promote new ideas, products or services, which help to generate interest in the company. For a music company that is rebranding, for instance, the consultant can organize roadshows and launch Internet advertising campaigns. Public relations consultants also respond to information requests; arrange events such as press conferences and contests; and conduct research to identify the public’s perception of an organization.
Public relation consultants typically hold bachelor’s degrees in public relations, communications, business administration or journalism. Consultants with master’s degrees and vast job experience can be hired by multinational firms or establish consultancy firms that can attract several clients. PR consultants can join the Public Relations Society of America to access career development resources, such as conferences and training workshops.
In 2013, public relations specialists, including consultants, earned a mean annual wage of $63,020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau also reports that the employment of public relations specialists will grow 12 percent between 2012 and 2022, about as fast as the estimated 11 percent average for all occupations.
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