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Careers in Public Relations

A career in public relations is a rewarding option if you consider yourself to be a good communicator and quick thinker.

What is it like to work in the field of public relations?

People in the public relations (PR) field will tell you that you have to be able to write and speak well, and yes, that might be true, but there is so much more to a career in this industry than that. Your focus as a PR professional would be to build relationships with customers, clients, and the media, and to generate positive publicity for the organisation that you represent. Often, you would be regarded as the “face of the company”.

A normal working day could involve anything from planning a book signing to writing a press release – your daily responsibilities would vary depending on the organisation that you work for.

Here are a few examples of what you could expect to do in your role as a public relations professional:

  • Write content for press releases
  • Create and publish social media posts (on Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Attend conferences on behalf of your organisation
  • Write emails
  • Interact with journalists
  • Set up newsletter placements
  • Respond to complaints
  • Brainstorm (and implement) new ideas for generating publicity

From the few examples listed above, you can see that this is a fast-paced and diverse industry to work in. Therefore, if you are a professional coming into the industry for the first time, you have to be confident (but also willing to learn), you have to be able to think quickly, and you have to be willing and able to represent your organisation wherever you go.

What are your career options in public relations?

One great aspect of public relations is that you don’t have to be tied down to only one specific role. There are various career options for you to choose from in this field.

For example:

Job titleJob Description
Public Relations SpecialistA Public Relations Specialist’s main role is to establish, protect, and uphold the public reputation of the organisation he or she represents. This might involve: issuing press releases, maintaining clear internal and external communication, liaising with the media, planning press conferences, dealing with complaints, and more.
Social Media StrategistA Social Media Strategist is mainly responsible for planning, managing, and possibly creating the content that will be published on an organisation’s social media platforms. He or she may also be responsible for replying to comments, questions, and complaints on these platforms.
PR Account ExecutiveA PR Account Executive generally works for a PR agency, and performs a wide variety of PR-related activities on behalf of his or her clients.
CopywriterA Copywriter creates content for many different platforms. In a PR context, he or she may be responsible for writing: speeches, press releases, article headlines, social media posts, internal communication documents, and more.

Tips for your public relations job interview

You can never be over-prepared for a job interview. Here are 3 tips to help you prepare for an interview in the PR industry:

  • How to answer the question, ‘Why do you want to work in public relations?’:
    The best approach is to answer this question truthfully and sincerely, preferably in a way that will enable your prospective employers to see your passion for the industry. So take some time before your interview to think about why you really want to work in PR, and what it is that attracts you to this industry.
  • How to answer the question, ‘How would you deal with a public relations crisis?’:
    As a PR professional, one of your most important responsibilities will be to protect the reputation of an organisation in a crisis. When you go to an interview, therefore, it’s natural to expect that your interviewer may ask you how you would respond in a PR crisis. And how you answer this question may be the deciding factor in whether or not you get the job.
    If you want to set yourself apart from other candidates, you not only need to give a solid explanation of how you would respond in a crisis, but you also need to be able to demonstrate it with a practical example. You’ll likely get bonus points if you can base your answer on a situation you’ve experienced in a previous job. For example, tell your potential future employers about what you learned when you handled a crisis in your previous job and how you would do things differently in the future, based on that experience.
  • How to answer the question, ‘How would you put together a pitch?’
    This is a question that assesses your ability to do the job, as well as your ability to think on your feet. If you need time to think of an answer to this question during the interview, you can buy yourself some time by asking clarifying questions, such as, ‘Who is the target audience for the pitch?’ And when you answer this question, you should demonstrate to the interviewer how you would take the target audience’s interests and objectives into account, how you would focus on the value and benefits involved, and how you would substantiate your claims with well-researched facts and statistics.

Do you have to study to find a job in this industry?

While it is possible to work in this industry without a qualification in PR, it is always a good idea t