PR Career: Five Roles to Consider After You Graduate

By Elli Bishop

Public relations (PR) is key to shaping the image of a company or figurehead.

Effective PR campaigns can establish credibility, legitimacy, and visibility while building relationships with the media and the client’s audience.

PR experts are essential for anyone looking for media attention or other visibility, and there are many careers which start at the ground floor, and move to positions of higher seniority.

How do you decide which PR career is for you? Here are five careers you should consider when finishing your degree, or deciding to switch paths in the industry.

A PR Career for All

1. Junior Publicist/PR Assistant

This is a great PR career to get straight out of college. You’ll mostly need a desire to learn and communicate, though a background in public relations, marketing, or communication is helpful. You need to be able to brainstorm and contribute ideas in a professionally communicative style, generally between the client and senior publicist.

You may be drafting news releases, blogs, or social media posts to be reviewed by the senior publicist, to train you to handle such responsibilities on your own. Building relationships with your coworkers, senior management, and clients is extremely important. This position is a way to pay your dues as you move up in the PR world.

2. Media Relations Expert

As one major role in PR is being a liaison between your company and the media, media relations may be a completely separate gig. It is your job to craft informative and compelling news releases that entice journalists to write a story covering your announcement. You want to reach media outlets, but you specifically want to grab the attention of media outlets your target market pay attention to, with clear and persuasive writing skills.

Having a degree in communications or journalism would certainly help, but it’s not necessary. If you are innately skilled at communicating, writing, and relationship building, this is a good PR career for you.

3. Social Media Manager

As social media becomes more popular for companies and political figures to reach their audiences, these potential clients and employers need people to specifically handle social media accounts. From Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and LinkedIn, there may be too many networks for any one PR person to handle amidst all of his or her other duties. And so, the need for social media managers was born.

This can be an easy way to get an internship with a company, particularly if you have already become skilled at using social media yourself. Companies might be keen to entrust their social media efforts to younger people, who have come up in the age of social media and generally have a lot of experience with it, though that’s not always the case.

If you can prove your ability to use social media to send positive, interesting, and shareable messages to followers and fans, you can become a social media manager – no ‘special’ degree necessary. An understanding of branding and brand building is key for this position.

4. Communications Manager

This role may specifically focus on communication, such as posting on blogs, creating and publishing newsletters, giving presentations, and writing speeches and video scripts, all direct ways of interacting with a client’s audience (rather than just through media coverage). A firm grasp of both writing and branding is required, as well as the ability to communicate across a spectrum of outlets and formats.

Internships may be available for this position. Writing blogs and newsletters, for example, could be jobs performed by anyone who excels at writing, regardless of your degree.

5. Crisis Communications Specialist

When a crisis occurs, anything from a negative YouTube video to a devastating event involving a company’s products or services, clients need someone particularly trained in reducing the damage done to their reputations. Crises management involves highly skilled storytelling and well written news releases, meant to minimize negative publicity or public outcry. You’ll need to actively be on top of your company’s reputation to spot potential threats.

It is essential this PR career have someone who has an ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Thi is necessary when defending actions or events surrounding your client, both for accepting what happened and making amends.

There are perks involved in any of these five PR careers, such as accessibility to news outlets and relationships with journalists. You may often receive free admission to big industry events and other exclusive functions. You’ll also gain invaluable experience in the realms of communication, marketing, and writing, which can be applicable to any number of positions in many other industries.

When it comes time to choose a new career path, press relations may be one that is attractive to you for its applicability, versatility, and package of unique benefits.

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Elli Bishop

Elli Bishop works for Business Bee, a Salt Lake City based company which provides tools and resources to help successfully run and build your business. She is the community manager for The Daily Buzz and enjoys writing and practicing yoga in her free time. You can follow BusinessBee on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook!

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