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Career profile: Press officer

press officer newspaper cuttingsAre you good at persuading people? Do you like the idea of working with the media? Read on to see if a career in a press department is up your street.

A what?

Press officers are responsible for their organisation’s relationship with the media and they try to make sure the press presents their employer in a positive light.

On the job

A press officer’s job is divided into two parts. The first important role they play is responding to media enquiries, so they will have to speak to journalists who call up and ask questions. They also have to keep an eye on anything that is said about their organisation and refute any negative or untrue statements.

The second part of a press officer’s role is to try and interest journalists and producers in covering their organisation in a programme or interview. This might involve organising a press event/conference or writing news releases and statements to send out to members of the press. In this way press officers try and get a steady stream of good news out about their company.

Most press officers work standard office hours but they may sometimes work on the odd weekend or in the evening if they are organising an event.
Starting salaries for press officers are around £20,000 a year and senior press officers can earn double that amount. There are also opportunities for moving to related departments such as marketing or communications.

How do I get there?

Most press officers have a degree or similar level qualification, so it’s definitely worth continuing with your studies.
You need to be a confident communicator and calm under pressure. Although this field is growing all the time, it is still quite competitive, so getting some relevant work experience is a good idea. Most big organisations will have a press department, whether they are a commercial enterprise, a government body (like the NHS) or a charity. Try calling around and see if you can shadow someone for a few days. It will help you learn more about the job as well as looking great on your CV!