Want a career in Public Relations? Here is what you must know

Communications, image management and media relations have emerged as necessary components of brand management strategy in recent years. As more and more organisations – corporates and startups – start looking at communication management as a crucial component of brand building, communications and public relations have emerged as lucrative career options. A Survey conducted in the US in 2017 to understand the prevalent perceptions of public relations among organisations found that an increasing number of companies were looking at hiring more PR professionals to boost their communication strategy. Around 62 percent of the respondents in the Survey said they planned to increase internal staffing to support public relations over the next five years, and 75 percent said they plan to increase overall spending on PR. While we do not have a similar Survey or study conducted in the Indian market, it is evident that the trend here is similar. 

As awareness and understanding of PR grows among, a greater number of media students are also actively looking for PR as a desired career. However, if you are a student wanting to make a career in PR, it is important for you to first understand the field adequately and assess whether you have the aptitude and passion for it, before taking a plunge. If you feel that PR community is all about glamour and good communication skills, then you’re mistaken. There is much more to PR than these two requisites. It constantly demands hard work, innovative thought process, convincing ability, in-depth knowledge, creativity, ability to analyse and awareness. PR is basically a persuasion business, where one is actually trying to convince an audience to promote your idea, purchase your product, support your position, or recognise your accomplishments. It requires much more than just writing a mail or conducting a meeting.

PR people are actually storytellers. They can be used to protect, enhance or build reputations through the media, social media, or self-produced communications.  A good PR practitioner will analyse the organisation he is responsible for, find positive messages and translate those messages into positive stories. When the news is bad, they have to formulate the best response and do the damage control through various tools. In any case, you have to know the organisation like the back of your hand, and drive your communication through a lot of hard work and passion.

The tools include the following:

  • Writing and disseminating press releases
  • Speech writing
  • Writing story pitches and persuading journalists to take them up
  • Creating and executing special events designed for public outreach and media relations
  • Conducting market research on the firm or the firm’s messaging
  • Expansion of business contacts via personal networking or attendance and sponsoring at events
  • Writing and blogging for the web 
  • Crisis strategies
  • Social media promotions and responses to negative opinions online
  • Designing sustainable media campaigns 

Educational qualification: To become a PR Professional, one needs to have a Bachelor’s degree or above, preferably in the field of Mass Communications. One can also acquire a diploma course in PR and Marketing, which will help to understand the other nitty-gritty’s about the PR community. 

Are you equipped enough to build a Career in PR? If you want to take up a career in Public Relations, here are some traits you need to have:

Ability to acquire in-depth knowledge: If you are a PR person, you need to have in-depth knowledge about not just your client but about the community and business governing it. If you do not have the ability to read beyond the opening paras of newspaper stories, you are not cut out for the job. In-depth study, detailed research and analysis, thorough understanding of the field is a basic requirement. Yu should be able to read newspapers cover to cover. Not only do you need awareness about the community you are working for, you also need to general awareness about the developments in the world and have a knack of using those developments to weave out stories. In a nutshell, you must think like a journalist even as you are pushing a promotional branding campaign. If you are good at acquiring in-depth knowledge, researching and analysing, you have a good chance of succeeding in the business.

 Thoroughness: There is no scope for even a minor mistake when you are sharing facts or figures with a journalist. Even a minor error can be a huge embarrassment for your client and may play havoc with your reputation. This is why a good PR person should always have the ability to do their homework well.  A good PR person should check and double-check the facts & statements and should always make sure it can be properly sourced—even when the fact is provided by the client.

Good communication: Without doubt, good communication skills – both verbal and written – are another critical element of a good PR person. Good communication skill doesn’t just entail an ability to get along well with people; rather it implies an ability to put you point across with cohesion and conviction, an ability to convince a person through facts and arguments and an ability to engage in a fruitful conversation. PR is not just about emailing press releases and article to journalists; it is also about educating and informing them about issues crucial to your client and convincing them that those issues are serious enough to be taken up in a newspaper.

Creativity: A good PR person connects the client’s products, ideas, causes, and key messages to the audiences they seek to reach. The person should therefore be creative enough to make those ideas interesting. He/she must have the ability to come up with new ideas/ways to represent their client in the media. In a world where digital and social media has become rather important, creativity also helps garner eyeballs and footfalls. 

Congeniality: Well, PR requires you to meet new people every day an engage them in discussion. You cannot be an introvert or a person who is not fond of socialising and still do well in PR. You need to have a pleasant personality, an ability to strike conversations with anyone and a congenial demeanor.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikky Gupta
An Entrepreneur, a Health Advocate, a mother of two and Co-Founder of Teamwork Communications Group & Indian Health & Wellness Foundation, Nikky Gupta embodies traits of an exponential leader. Having spent a few years learning on the job, she decided to turn entrepreneur and co-founded Teamwork Communications Group in 2010. Under her leadership, Teamwork Group has conducted a series of successful campaigns for the Kerala government, Jharkhand government and Delhi government's department of art, culture and languages.

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