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Career profile: Public relations officer (PR)

public relations pr officerDo you always see the glass as half full? If you’re good at putting a positive spin on things, then you could make a great PR officer.

A what?

A PR officer is responsible for the external image of an organisation. They are there to build and maintain good relationships with outside parties – individuals, the media, customers, etc. - so that the organisation is seen in a positive light.

On the job

Day to day work involves writing and editing – press releases, shareholder reports, speeches or information leaflets. You could also be called on to check over publications written by others to ensure that the organisation’s message is consistent.

Much of the work of a PR officer also involves developing relationships with the media, ensuring that the organisation’s successes are recognised and trying to limit the damage done to a brand’s reputation by bad news. You will need to be a good communicator, as you may also be asked to give speeches and quotes on behalf of the organisation.

Public relations work often involves a lot of travelling to conferences and events, where you will be expected to be the ‘face’ of the organisation. Sometimes this means attending careers fairs to recruit the most talented graduates, or sometimes it simply involves networking and building good rapport with potential customers or the media.

Course entry requirements

You can study PR at degree level, and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations recommends that you do this. However, degrees in journalism, advertising or marketing, English, politics or business are also seen as an advantage.

The A levels (or equivalent) needed depend on which university you want to study at, but BBB is a good level to aim for. Most PR companies prefer you to have A levels such as English, politics, law, or anything that shows you are a good communicator.

What is the training like?

Most people who work in PR will have entered the sector as graduates. Once you have graduated, there are two potential paths: PR consultancy or in-house. If you choose in-house you will work for a specific organisation, but as a consultant you will move around and work with different clients.

Whichever you choose, the company you work for will generally put you on a training course which will involve learning good communication skills as well as, with an in-house team, learning the brand message of your specific organisation.

You can expect to spend around two years as a junior account executive, then two or three years as an account executive then two to three years as a senior account executive before becoming an associate or account director.

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