Day 1, Public Relations Specialist

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Many people when picturing this career see it as being glamorous. In movies the characters are often involved in the media/journalism/publicity industry (PR worker), attending parties, wearing stylish clothing, meeting respectable people-perfect activities for creating plot twists in the movie. But is this an accurate representation of the career?

Well according to most of my research, yes!…and no.

Public relations specialists are defined by universities as people who create mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.

It seems working in PR involves mostly writing press releases and also responding to information requests from the media, helping clients communicate effectively with the public, making speeches for their organization to deliver at events, arranging interviews and meeting with clients and creating a good image for their company. Public relations specialists usually work in offices, but they can work from home. They also attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel.

Those people at huge business events having drinks and laughing with a bunch of people they have never met before? Public relations specialists.

Those people sitting behind their office desks tirelessly writing long articles and responding to hate mail? Also public relations specialists.

It seems as though the job has a variety of pleasant and not so pleasant tasks Ultimately though everyone in the industry I watched getting interviewed on being a PR specialist said they found their job to be very rewarding overall and anything but boring.

 

Personality and skill requirements:

You have to love writing and communicating with people (no this does not mean that you have to be a complete social butterfly but more that you really care about peoples opinions and can make people feel special ). You must be creative and able to form a good argument and write entertaining content (or else no one will be interested in your work).

 

How to break into this career:

Typically one needs a bachelor’s degree. Employers look for candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. From there, if you have tried applying directly for PR specialist keep failing, they say the best step you can take to get into the industry is interning at whichever firms interest you. Employers will take you more seriously if you approach them directly whether calling to make an appointment or going to the offices directly. Better yet, if you have any contacts in the industry, try make use of them to get a good word in for you or even an opportunity with the organizations you’d like to work for.

 

The pay:

The average annual pay for PR specialist was $54,170 in May 2012. This was an American study. In South Africa, as I suspected the average annual pay was much lower, R287,996. This is still decent, provided you don’t have a family of 20 to cater for…

 

The working hours:

Usually the regular 8 hour shifts, but working overtime is common and the hours depend on the task of the day, eg. if attending a corporate event you could be working from late in the day into late in the night as opposed to the usual 9am-5pm.

 

The pros:

-The career is upbeat, fast-paced and anything but boring.

-Once you reach a respectable position in PR the pay is fabulous.

-There are many options and jobs available when it comes to working in PR as almost every organization and product that wants to be taken seriously requires PR.

-The job is full of variety. Repetition is not in its vocabulary.

 

The cons:

-Working overtime is common.

-As so many people are interested in working in PR the job isn’t exactly guaranteed to you, you have to work hard to get to a position you want.

-Dealing with complaints and internet trolls is common.

-Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. If you don’t have a good work ethic you could easily drown in work and stress.

 

My overall conclusion and rating on this career:

I’m still a bit skeptical of surrendering myself to a behind-the-desk office job but the career offers enough other benefits ( good salary, going to events, travelling, communication with people (I personally love the whole conversating with humans thing)) and so this career earns a solid *drum roll* 7/10.