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Career In Focus: Public Relations

Posted November 7, 2019, by Elesha

Public relations professionals love what they do. An exciting career choice with a diverse number of roles, whether you like to write, pitch, research or strategise, the skills of public relations professionals are needed in almost every industry. Is a role in PR for you? Read on to get the ins outs, ups and downs of the PR field. 

What Is Public Relations?

At its core, public relations (PR) is the way a brand communicates with its audience; from the general public and customers to its investors and even its own staff. The purpose of PR is to communicate, tell the brand story and be involved in industry conversations to build positive relationships with relevant stakeholders. 

Although PR and marketing teams often work closely, they’re not actually the same thing, as marketing focuses specifically on generating revenue. It’s different from advertising too, which is about paid promotion to get the brand message out.

The Different Types Of Public Relations

Reaching every stakeholder in a brand’s circle means there are different areas of public relations, with various roles focusing on -

Media relationships: Building strong relationships with the media, ideally becoming their ‘go-to’ source for specific content in the industry.

Community relationships: Social outreach programs to build credibility with the wider community and send a message as to the brand’s role and responsibility in the community. This is especially important for brands operating in small, local communities. 

Government relationships: Deals with how a brand or organisation interacts with the government, with government regulators, legislative and regulatory bodies. 

Investor relationships: Respond to investor and analyst enquires about the organisation and industry trends, handle investor events and release financial reports. 

Customer relationships: Build positive relationships with a brand’s target market and lead customers; using media and social strategies to influence the attitudes and priorities of the target market. 

Marketing communications: Working with the marketing team to support marketing initiatives including product launches and campaigns to increase brand awareness and positioning. 

Internal relations: A specialisation of PR which boosts an organisation’s relationships with its employees by coordinating clear internal communication to enhance management's relationship with employees and boost morale. 

What Kind Of Jobs Are In Public Relations?

Is a career in public relations sounding interesting? You’ve got a variety of roles you can choose to pursue that all come under the umbrella of PR.

Publicist

When most people think of a public relations professional they generally think of a publicist role. 

Publicists generate media coverage for a brand to promote them to the public. Part of an in-house team or an agency, a publicist identifies the best ways for a brand to get their message out to the media, and targets and crafts publicity campaigns based on those findings. Publicists often work with personal brands and celebrities to build their public image. 

Content Writer

Another role that can be part of an agency or in-house team, is a content and media creator. The responsibility of this role is to write and create marketing materials in line with the brands PR strategy that will get noticed by media outlets and social platforms. These materials can include content like media releases, guest blog posts and articles. Maintaining a consistent brand voice across multiple channels at the same time is a key requirement of the job!

PR specialist

This role is responsible for generating positive media coverage and, as the brands first point of contact for media, maintaining strong relationships with journalists. A PR specialist will come up with relevant stories to pitch to journalists that resonate as newsworthy items and show the brand in a positive light. 

Spokesperson of an organisation

The voice (and face!) of an entire organisation, a spokesperson is responsible for making public statements and interviews on behalf of the brand. They handle interview requests and respond to any negative, public feedback the brand may face. For larger organisations, this role may also include making TV appearances. 

Social media manager

A social media manager is often found in the PR team. They work to manage and promote the brand's message across social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, engage with the brand's community and track the impact of different campaigns. The role of a social media manager could be in-house or agency based. 

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In A PR Role?

To thrive in a PR role, you’ll need to master a combination of skills which include -

  • Outstanding communication and people skills.
  • Leadership skills and the ability to motivate others.
  • Able to work under pressure - especially in times of a PR crisis!
  • Excellent negotiation skills.
  • Sound planning and analytical skills.
  • Thriving on deadlines.
  • Great content writing skills and an excellent understanding of social media.

We’ve got a few extra pointers to turn yourself into a PR star and turbocharge your career. 

Focus on honing your content skills. 

An uncanny ability to dream up and create amazing content is a foundational PR skill. This includes - journalistic writing, blogging, an excellent grasp on storytelling and ability to make the right content recommendation for a strategy, no matter the medium. 

Network, network, network! The people you meet and work with can play game-changing roles in your career. Make networking a priority to grow your relationships with other business players in your industry sector as well as with journalists.

These connections can also be a great source to help when you are in need and vice versa. 

Cultivate strong relationships with journalists

As a PR specialist, you’ll need to interact with journalists on a regular basis, so focus on building strong relationships with them so you can gain the coverage a brand needs. 

Be persistent and stay in touch - keep sending ideas, preferably by email, occasionally by phone. When a journalist contacts you for input on a story be responsive, co-operative and interesting!

How Do I Get PR Experience?

The best way to know which of these roles is right for you is by taking on an internship and getting some hands-on experience.

It’s important to build your online profile and personal brand too. It’s a valuable asset for showcasing your experience and ambitions. You can follow agencies on social media to keep your finger on the pulse on trends and the direction the industry is headed. 

Online networking is a solid strategy to get the attention of a PR firm or brand you’re interested in gaining work experience with - opportunities often come this way. It also shows the agency you have a solid network yourself, which is a plus. 

How Much Does A Job In Public Relations Pay?

Salaries in the PR industry vary depending on your experience, the role and industry sector.

This guide from Payscale gives you an idea of what you could expect to earn in Australia for the PR roles mentioned earlier. 

Publicist: The average wage per annum for a publicist is $58,868 with those leading the field earning around $96,000.

Content Writer: The average wage per annum for a content writer is $50,922. At the top of your game, you could be earning $72,000.

PR specialist: The average wage per annum for a PR specialist is $65,686 but can reach to $108,000.

Spokesperson: The responsibility of a spokesperson is usually part of a larger communications role in the company. The average wage per annum for a director of communications role is $145,609 with those at the higher end of the scale earning around $181,000.

Social media manager: The average social media manager salary per annum is $60,202 but there is potential to hit around  $83,000.

**Salary information sourced from Payscale for the Australian region - current as at November 2019.

The Future Of The Public Relations Industry - 2020 and Beyond

Thanks to a huge shift towards digital news sources and the way consumers interact with brands, the PR landscape is experiencing some big changes. This also offers a big opportunity for PR superstars who are willing to constantly be upgrading their skills and adapt to this rapidly changing industry.

According to the Smart Company article, What Does The Future Of PR Look Like?, although it is rapidly evolving, the future outlook for 2020 and beyond is strong for the PR industry. 

“With brand reputation, transparency and deep engagement with customers all key to a brand’s success in the modern marketing world, now is the time for those in PR to truly understand their place in the marketing ecosystem is more important than ever.” 

Best Courses To Take For A Career In Public Relations

Check out a few other PR related articles, How To Make Your Mark In Communications and How To Become A Social Media Manager In Australia

Elesha

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