Career Training Opportunities in Public Relations and Corporate Communications

Have you ever thought about why people trust certain product brands? Or how companies manage their public image? Or how certain Hollywood movie stars seem to appear in the press over and over again? The one thing they all have in common is effective public relations.

Public relations specialists (also referred to as media representatives and communications officers) serve as advocates for businesses, nonprofit associations, hospitals, universities, and other organizations. They build and maintain positive relationships with the press and the public. Media reps not only manage the day-to-day business of a company’s image, but they may also be called upon to repair the damage done by a corporate misstep or other crisis.

Jobs in public relations have traditionally been concentrated in large cities, where many businesses and trade associations have their headquarters, and press services and other communications facilities are readily available. Many public relations consulting firms, for example, are in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. However, because of the internet, in recent years corporate communications jobs are increasingly found nearly anywhere.

How do public relations specialists manage an organization’s message? Primarily by cultivating relationships with the press, and then providing the press with positive news stories. Communications managers draft press releases and send them to reporters in the media who might print or broadcast their material. You might be surprised to know that many newspaper stories, magazine articles, and radio or television special reports begin as press releases from media specialists.

Crisis management can be important. If a supermarket chain is accused of selling tainted meat, for example, the supermarket must immediately take action to correct the problem. The next task may involve counteracting the negative impression that has been created in the minds of customers. People may switch to a competitor because of stories circulating about bad meat at the supermarket. It’s the task of the public relations team at the supermarket to make sure that the community knows that the problem has been fixed and that the chain can be trusted to sell healthy food.

In government, information officers and press secretaries keep the public informed about the activities of agencies and officials. A U.S. senator may employ a team of press officers to keep the senator’s constituents informed and monitor what the press is saying about their boss. If a negative story appears, the press officers will try to respond with something positive. During an election campaign, public relations officers are key members of the campaign team because they must constantly evaluate their candidate’s standing in the polls and image in the press.

Education and training: A college degree in public relations, advertising, journalism, or communications is often required even for entry-level positions. Some organizations seek college graduates who have worked in electronic or print journalism, those who have communication skills and training, or who have experience in a field related to the firm’s business.

Many colleges and universities offer associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in communications. A public relations program may include courses in media relations principles and techniques, communications management and administration, writing, visual communications, and research. Advertising, business administration, finance, journalism, political science, psychology, sociology, and creative writing may also be part of a program.

Job growth could be impressive. According to the U.S. Government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the current decade 2008-2018 employment of public relations specialists is expected to grow 24 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations.

In an increasingly competitive business environment, the need for effective media relations should create a need for these workers in organizations of all types and sizes. People with foreign language capabilities also are in great demand. Employment in public relations firms should grow as firms outsource to provide public relations services rather than hire in-house staff.

Perhaps you could be the person who shapes public opinion for a company, a product, or a candidate. With the right training and opportunities, a career in public relations could be yours.

But how do you begin to get the training you need? A good way is to log onto a reputable online career college search engine and directory. You’ll be able to search for schools in your area that offer the degree you need, or find an online degree program. You can compare programs and even learn about flexible schedules and financial aid. Then you can request free information from the schools that interest you, visit a few, and make your decision. In less time than you think, you could be trained for a new rewarding career as a public relations specialist.

The Role of Public Relations in an Organization

Everyone knows that several factors are responsible for the success story of an organization. These factors include reputation and image of an organization and communication with public. Public relations are concerned with reputation, image and communication of public and organization. The enhancement of reputation of an organization is a main goal of Public Relation Department. The employees of Public Relations are known as PR. They represent the company in outside world at its best.

In the highly competitive world of modern business, every organization needs a stand in the crowd and to uniquely identify in front of public and media. PR basically engage with development of suitable relations of any organization with public via different communication media and tools. These Relations are those necessary activities which assess and determine belief, approach, and thinking of public towards organization. Public and media play an integral role in the development of business. Public is the ultimate buyer of our products and media is responsible for selling of these products. PR helps any organization to attain its full prospective. They provide feedback of public to company.

The role of PR in an organization is immense and wider scope, which includes:

  1. Prepare feedback from public and decide the areas of improvement in organization.
  2. Create rapport and goodwill of organization in the key market and public.
  3. Image and reputation of company in different magazines and articles in media and its publications.
  4. Evaluate and monitor media tools for public views and comments regarding company and its reputation.
  5. PR is also a part of marketing communication, which involves in advertising, direct sales and promotions.

Several functions are associated with PR in an organization. The main functions are community relationship, crisis communication, financial relations, employee’s relations, and government and political relations.

Community relations refer to those activities which bridge the gap between company and community. The main goal is to improve image and reputation of organization in any community. Crisis communications give the right and accurate information about organization in the time of any mishappening and accident. Wrong information leads to negative image of organization. PR plays an important part to update public in the time of emergencies and natural calamities. Financial relations provide information to the investors and stakeholders. It communicates with all types of groups and individuals for accurate operation of business. These activities enhance goodwill and image of organization.

Employee relations are the way to interact with customers in several ways. The employee’s reputation is the key player in company’s reputation. Political and government relations define influence for policymaking and different legislation for the betterment of organization.

We can say that PR is the basic of firm relationship between public and organization. The strong bonding of the companies and customers is the key goal of Public Relations.

Get Results From Your Public Relations Firm: Do’s and Don’ts for Start-Ups Seeking Publicity

Most new business owners know the value of publicity for promoting their company’s reputation and selling their product or service. However, many don’t know how to go about getting it. They may hire a public relations firm – a good idea even for start-ups – then be disappointed with the results.

This does not have to be the case. If you are the owner of a new business, you can have a successful working relationship with your public relations firm and achieve your goals simply by following some basic guidelines.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that should put you on the right track.

DO:

1. Expect honest representation. Your public relations firm should have a good idea of what will – and will not – get attention in the news media. They should also know the best media outlets and reporters to approach to get editorial coverage for your business. Listen to them. Problems in a PR firm-client relationship often stem from public relations counselors going against their better judgment and pitching a story they know will not fly, just to please an insistent client. Media pitches for a company with a reputation of sending out material that isn’t newsworthy are likely to be ignored.

2. Communicate everything about your business to your public relations counselor – not just what you think he or she needs to know. You may have some hidden gems of stories in your business that you – being an insider and not attuned to media interests – may not think are all that interesting. You should also share information about any potential problems or embarrassing situations. A PR professional will keep your confidences and help you manage negative publicity, should it occur.

3. Ask for a crisis communication plan. You may never have to utilize it – and let’s hope that’s true – but having a crisis communication plan in place and circulated among top officers of your company will come in handy to tap down negative stories before they balloon into major problems that could damage your company’s reputation.

4. Have a media contact procedure in place. Everyone – from the receptionist to the president – needs to know what to do if and when the media calls. The best advice is to have everyone refer calls from the news media to the public relations firm. They can sort out all the particulars and arrange for any interviews.

5. Respond quickly to interview requests as they are presented to you by your public relations person. Media interviews are an opportunity for you to present your company the way you want it presented. But reporters have deadlines; if you aren’t available, they will interview someone else, and you may miss out on an opportunity to get positive media coverage.

DON’T:

1. Expect a guarantee. Media coverage cannot be guaranteed, unless you do a “pay-for-play” agreement with a particular publication, in which you buy advertising and get an article on your company in return. Other than that type of arrangement – usually referred to as an “advertorial” – no public relations firm can, or should, guarantee coverage.

2. Be a one-hit wonder. One big round of publicity is not going to carry you very far. A good public relations program is an ongoing enterprise, and often a “drip-drip-drip” strategy is better than a one-time splashy feature.

3. Be caught unprepared. Ask for media training. You may be a great communicator in many ways, but doing a media interview is a special skill. Having some knowledge of how the media works, developing strong messages, and practicing delivering them will make you a better, more confident company representative.

4. Expect media coverage to do it all. There are many other ways to reach your targeted audience, including social media, marketing communications, and opportunities for direct engagement. A good PR person will look at your firm – its goals, its product or service offerings, its target markets – and design a communication strategy specific to your needs.

5. Be discouraged if your plan takes a while to get off the ground. You want to have everything – messages, action plan, trained spokespersons, etc. – in place before you go public. First impressions are lasting ones.