Public relations consultants, or public relations specialists, serve as the link between the public and clients looking to market a product, place, service or person. They are in charge of developing communication strategies. Public relations consultants must maintain good cooperative relationships with clients, consumers, communities, corporations and the general public in order to perform their job successfully.
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Public relations consultants create press releases to be broadcast in the media. They may also draft newspaper stories, radio and television special reports or magazine articles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Public relations specialists handle organizational functions, such as media, community, consumer, industry, and governmental relations; political campaigns; interest-group representation; conflict mediation; and employee and investor relations.” A PR consultant may write speeches for officials to deliver at speaking engagements, prepare visual aids for meetings, and organise conventions. They may be involved in advertising, marketing, and sales promoting.
PR consultants should be able to work under a great deal of stress and pressure because they must work under tight deadlines and hectic work schedules. Some consultants work a standard 40-hour work week, but most work overtime on a regular basis. Schedules are irregular and consultants may be frequently interrupted or called in to work at all hours of the day. They may have a variety of clients such as hospitals, universities, non-profit organisations or corporations.
Public relations specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, journalism, communications or public relations. Some employers seek candidates who have experience in the company’s field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “Courses in advertising, business administration, finance, political science, psychology, sociology, and creative writing also are helpful.” Prospective PR consultants could gain valuable hands-on experience by completing an internship in public relations, which could lead to entry-level positions. Some companies offer on-the-job training for new hires.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for public relations consultants was £33,332 in May 2008. The top earners in the field made over £63,641, while the lowest 10 per cent of PR consultants made under £19,591 in 2008. Those who managed companies earned the most. PR consultants at colleges and universities made the least.
Employment Opportunities and Job Outlook
Once they prove they can handle bigger assignments, public relations specialists can advance to supervisory positions. The job order of advancement may go from entry-level employee to junior account executive, “to account executive, senior account executive, account manager, and, eventually, vice president,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some may even go on to run their own consulting business. The job outlook for PR consultants is expected to increase by 24 per cent through the year 2018. The increasing popularity of social media is expected to increase the demand for public relations consultants.
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