A public relations officer (also known as a public relations specialist) plays an important role in creating the public’s perception of an individual or company. It involves building relationships and keeping the public informed about the company.
A public relations officer is responsible for creating the brand ‘story’ a company wants to tell. They are tasked with generating media releases for coverage in mainstream news, fielding media enquiries from journalists, responding to crisis situations, communicating with stakeholders, creating content and manning social media pages. Public relations officers are expected to help create and maintain the public’s perception and help businesses reach their goals. A public relations officer is responsible for a range of areas, including:
The media relations duties for a public relations officer involve dealing and communicating with journalists to try to gain coverage and to respond to reporters’ questions. This is known as proactive and reactive media activity. PR specialists are also responsible for establishing and maintaining a professional and mutually beneficial relationship with journalists and other media professionals.
PR specialists operating within public affairs handle any communication with the government or public groups. Public affairs are also concerned about the effect of public policies, actions and legislation.
When a sudden threat or event occurs that has the potential to damage a company’s reputation, public relations officers immediately act to implement a crisis communication strategy. This allows the company’s reputation to be protected.
A crisis communication plan includes determining specific logistics, such as how journalists will be responded to, designation of an official spokesperson for the crisis, development of targeted messages for internal and external audiences and training the company’s employees on how to handle tough and hostile questions.
Another function of a public relations officer is to represent the company to its stakeholder groups.
Public relations plays an important part in any organisation across all fields. An area some people fail to consider is how it can be used for educational organisations.
Public relations is vital to an educational institution to improve the programmes and services provided. An educational public relations officer’s duty involves communicating between the institution and its staff, students, alumni, and families. Other duties and functions for an educational public relations officer include distributing newsletters to inform the public about campus events, build and maintain relationships with alumni, lecturers, staff and students.