Public Relations Responsibilities (Roles and Requirements)
Updated 3 April 2023
A public relations professional typically creates effective public relations (PR) strategies and helps guide organisations or individuals to build a positive reputation. They can use various tools and methods to execute their strategy, including press, social media and events. If you're looking to become a PR professional, understanding what a public relations professional does and what some of their typical responsibilities are can be useful to determine if it's the right career for you. In this article, we outline some specific duties of a PR professional and explain the requirements of working in PR.
What are public relations responsibilities?
Public relations responsibilities are the tasks and activities that make up the job duties of a public relations professional. Public relations involve building and maintaining a positive image for a business or individual. Activities can include engaging with media outlets to promote the business, writing media releases, managing social media messages and crafting key messaging that helps to shape the public opinion of an organisation, raising brand awareness and engaging the key target market.
PR manager roles
Here are some typical public relations roles if you're considering a career in PR:
Establishing relationships with media outlets, customers, community groups, employees and other public interest groups can be essential for a public relations professional. Some employers can seek candidates who have well-established relationships to draw on, specifically with well-known and respected journalists. Relationships with other employees can also be essential. For example, as a PR professional, you may work closely with legal or risk teams to arrange messaging approval.
Responding to media requests
Working in public relations can mean responding to requests from the media. Specific tasks can include creating key messaging concerning the request, drafting a formal response or designating a spokesperson. If responding to a request from a media broadcaster, you may also be responsible for coaching the spokesperson, ensuring they understand the key messages and potential impact on the brand.
Writing press releases
Public relations professionals can be responsible for drafting press releases and other communication material. Understanding how to structure a media release to appeal to specific media outlets can be essential. For example, this may mean incorporating data or statistics to validate claims made by spokespeople that may be of interest to the media outlet's audience.
Conducting media training
A role of a public relations professional may be to conduct or organise media training for key spokespeople. For example, when representing a brand, spokespeople are required to know how to respond to questions from the media, including staying 'on message' and maintaining a positive tone and body language. Sometimes spokespeople can benefit from undergoing media training with experienced journalists to replicate an interview in a high pressure situation to improve their skills.
Creating PR strategies
As a PR professional, it's essential to learn the organisation's objectives and create public relations strategies that align with them. Strategies may involve promoting products and services or influencing public opinion. Implementing the strategy using the appropriate activities and the channel is also essential, as is measuring each activity's success and demonstrating your impact.
A PR professional can act as a professional gatekeeper for external content. Tasks can include preparing and editing publications for both internal and external audiences, including website content, annual reports, speeches or newsletters. In addition, the role involves ensuring consistency of messaging and tone of voice to help deliver a cohesive message to key audiences.
Managing crisis communications
Many PR professionals can manage crisis communications for their organisations. Crisis communications refer to establishing the systems, technology and protocols to enable an organisation to communicate during a significant threat to its business operations or reputation. Examples may include extreme weather events, such as flooding that can shut down normal business operations, product recalls or cyberattacks. PR professionals work alongside other crisis communication team members to establish a plan to ensure relevant staff members can effectively communicate with each other during a threat, sharing information so an organisation can rectify the situation and ensure business continuity.
To create accurate and relevant content, it can be essential to have good relationships with key employees and other stakeholders. For example, you may confer with subject-matter experts to help identify trends or group interests to create external communications that resonate with your key audience. In addition, your role may involve advising the business on the impact on the brand, so establishing relationships and knowing where to turn for support and guidance can be essential.
Managing social media
Monitoring and managing social media can be essential if you work in public relations. Your role may involve monitoring engagement levels or comments on social media and drafting responses that accurately represent the brand. Monitoring social media can also be essential to determine proactive public relations opportunities and help to understand public perceptions that impact strategy and planning.
PR professionals typically organise various promotional events, such as open days, exhibitions, press conferences, tours or visits to the organisation. As a public relations professional, your role may also involve publicly representing the organisation. For example, presenting at conferences or speaking on behalf of the organisation at press conferences.
Requirements for working as a PR professional
If you're interested in a career in public relations, here are some requirements to consider:
Many employers expect candidates to have completed formal qualifications to work as public relations professionals. You can explore several courses, such as a bachelor's degree specialising in communication or public relations. You may also move into a PR position after working as a journalist or completing a marketing degree.
When applying for a position as a public relations professional, hiring managers may be looking for a candidate with experience with a range of PR tasks and activities. Specific experience may include managing a press conference, the ability to pitch news stories to media, an understanding of consumer marketing or the ability to work on strategy along with tactical execution. To help organisations measure public relations activities' return on investment (ROI), they may also require candidates to demonstrate results. Other experiences that may be attractive to an employer include budget and project management.
A public relations specialist can benefit from a wide range of skills, including:
Communication: Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential when working in public relations to communicate your ideas. In addition, active listening, positive body language and communicating with empathy are all crucial skills to have as a PR professional.
Writing: Strong writing skills are essential to work as a PR professional, to write captivating content that appeals to audiences. Some employers may ask to see samples of your writing, such as press releases, blog copies or other marketing collateral.
Social media: Understanding how to use social media effectively to boost brand awareness and engage target audiences can be essential when working in public relations. A good understanding can include understanding the key differences between different social media platforms and which platforms to use when crafting different messages.
Detail-oriented: Excellent attention to detail is essential for a public relations professional to craft messages that accurately reflect the brand. Mistakes can reflect poorly on the organisation you work for, so looking for errors and sending error free content can be crucial.
Creative: Public relations professionals benefit from a high level of creativity. You can use creativity to develop new ideas, such as discovering different ways to attract new customers.
Multimedia: As a PR professional, having a basic knowledge of manipulating various media types can be beneficial, such as the ability to alter images, post content to multiple platforms or understand how to write to boost search engine rankings. Understanding when to use video content versus photos for online content can be beneficial and lead to more engaging online campaigns.
Honesty: Being honest can help you build credibility with stakeholders. Being upfront and unafraid to deal with a PR crisis can appeal to employers and assist with stakeholder relationships.
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