Most businesses and organizations need some level of public support in order to survive and thrive, and in order to garner that support, they may engage the services of public relations professionals. The main types of PR jobs are the same whether these professionals work in an internal PR department or for an independent agency.
Public Relations and Communications Specialists
Public relations or communications specialists are the professionals who develop and implement public relations plans. They may write and distribute news releases, contact the media and monitor media coverage and perform other tasks, such as coordinating events and contributing to corporate newsletters and websites. Public relations specialists handle both internal and external communication and ensure that all communications are consistent with the company brand and message strategy. Public relations professionals often communicate with multiple audiences, including the media, general public, employees, shareholders and in some cases, the government.
Some companies or organizations hire media relations specialists to handle all media related activities. This could mean serving as a spokesperson for the organization as well as handling all media outreach and coordination. Media relations specialists foster positive relationships with reporters and producers by not only responding to inquiries but also providing useful source information for stories. Media relations professionals may also coordinate the advertising efforts for a company or organization by developing advertisements and purchasing ad space or airtime. In smaller companies this role is often handled by the public relations specialists and director.
Community relations is a subset of public relations -- although some companies use the terms interchangeably -- and involves outreach and communication with a specific community or audience. Nonprofit organizations often hire community relations professionals to handle outreach and social awareness campaigns, often through events.
Within the governmental sector, public relations professionals serve very specific functions. Most elected or appointed officials have a press secretary who handles the public relations related tasks. These professionals arrange, and often answer questions at, press conferences and provide information about the activities of the officials. Press secretaries often attend events with, or in place of, busy government officials.
While many companies have a PR professional on staff to serve as a spokesperson with the media or at events, in some high-profile projects, the PR department may hire a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the company or organization. This is especially common with nonprofit organizations that want to draw attention to a cause; many engage the services of a celebrity or other public figure to attract attention and support for the cause. In some cases, though, individuals who have experience with or a devotion to a cause are recruited to serve as spokespersons and be a part of public relations efforts.