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Public relations

publicrelations-10424

Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.

Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its public.

 

Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

 

Exploring the sector

What is public relations?

Public relations (PR) is all about maintaining a good impression of a company, brand, or individual in the media. 

PR professionals typically spend their time:

  • collating and analysing media coverage
  • writing and updating social media content
  • writing press releases
  • contacting media professionals
  • organising events and launches
  • writing content for and updating websites and newsletters
  • acting as a representative for an organisation – this can include times where there has been adverse publicity or a crisis situation

Prospects PR officer job profile

Prospects PR account executive job
profile

How does it differ from marketing and advertising?

This is a question often asked here in Careers. While brand reputation and promotion is important in all three areas, there are differences.

Marketing is the process of understanding the competitive marketplace, identifying customer requirements, and the strategy and implementation of raising awareness of a product, person, service or organisation.

It covers a very wide range of elements from product development and pricing through to promotion and the physical presentation of goods and services. Marketing has various specialist roles such as market researcher, copywriter or content marketer, digital marketing and/or social media executive, SEO specialist, web designer and many more.

Advertising and PR are often a strategic element of wider marketing activity. Advertising raises awareness of goods and services, and is usually part of the marketing plan. Typically, a marketing manager will go to an external advertising agency to develop and produce the campaign which could feature TV, radio, posters, the internet, newspapers and magazines, depending on the audience and budget. In today's age of social media, putting an ad out is only the start as subsequent impact on social media is vital. Think of a Christmas advert such as John Lewis' and the social media commentary that follows.

Find out about advertising

Find out about marketing

 
 

Which are the main employers and roles?

What type of organisations work in PR?

Public relations roles are typically found either ‘in-house’, which means they are employed by a business or organisation directly, or in a specialist PR agency which has contracts to provide PR services to other businesses, organisations, or individuals.

Many large organisations employ their own PR team. The name of the team can vary, but is usually something like 'media relations', 'press office' or 'external affairs'.

Most towns and cities in the UK, including Nottingham, have PR agencies. You might be interested in seeing PR Week's list of the  Top 150 PR agencies in the UK.

Agencies and consultancies may specialise in one industry sector, or cover several. Sectors that make regular use of PR are:

What are the hot topics in PR?

In today's world we all take immediacy of information for granted. The vital challenge for PR professionals is how you integrate PR through all mediums in real time. This requires coordinating all communication channels including social media and news platforms. Video is often used to develop brand awareness and engage with audiences. Print journalism and writing press releases to generate publicity are also part of the toolkit of PR.

PR is increasingly about supporting lead generation for marketing and sales. There are many debates about the roles of content marketing whose goal is to increase the demand for a product or service through useful information, and brand journalism which finds and tells the stories that convey a brand's personality.

Job titles to look out for

Job titles you can expect to see depend on the organisation:

  • (Junior) account executive – in an agency
  • Public relations or communications assistant – if working in-house
  • Other titles can include media relations assistant, press officer or external communications assistant
 
 

How can I find work experience and my first job?

What are the entry routes into the sector?

Many entrants to PR are graduates, and most of these enter after an undergraduate course. While there are degrees in public relations and marketing subjects, PR is open to graduates of any discipline.

There are masters degrees in PR available around the UK, but they are certainly not essential to enter the profession.

Whatever qualification you have, employers will be looking for evidence of passion for this field, ideally having undertaking some relevant experience.

Knowledge of the digital world is very important. You should have a good working knowledge of social media platforms, and be sure to think carefully about your own personal brand and how you present yourself online.

Although writing press releases is only part of the job, knowledge of writing for a publication or website would be useful.

Finding work experience

Many PR companies around the UK offer work experience placement opportunities. A lot of these are never advertised so you will need to do a lot of research and make speculative approaches.

Sending a covering letter and CV is the most common method, but bear in mind that a company will often receive numerous approaches so think creatively about how you might make yourself stand out.

Another method could be to ring the company and ask them questions about the profession and about any possible work experience opportunities.

Charities are a great source of acquiring relevant experience as they often require help with websites, digital newsletters, etc.

A great source of experience while at University could be to get involved with University publications – this could be for societies or magazines such as Impact.

 

Sources of job vacancies

My Career is our online database of vacancies and you can also register for events.

Login to My Career to search vacancies

The CIPR has good advice on where to find vacancies.

Read the CIPR's advice on job hunting

Many opportunities and vacancies are never advertised so speculative applications are very common. If you are looking for openings in a particular town or city, you can search Yell.com to find relevant PR companies.

Yell.com

The Nottingham Internship Scheme offers paid internships throughout the year with locally-based companies in marketing and PR-related roles.

Nottingham Internship Scheme

Experience in marketing can be very useful if you're interested in a PR role. The Chartered Institute of Marketing can be a useful source of information, and you may want to read our section on marketing.

Chartered Institute of Marketing

MediaCityUK

Read our marketing section

Five things to include in your applications

  • Demonstrate a genuine interest in current affairs

  • Highlight your communication skills

  • Emphasise relevant work experience, whether it was paid or voluntary

  • Link to your social media accounts, including LinkedIn, and any other relevant activities such as blogs/vlogs etc. Ensure your content supports your personal brand you are presenting to the employer. 

  • Include any skills or experience that fall outside of conventional PR settings, but which are relevant to the sector
 
 

What to do next at Nottingham?

 

Careers and Employability Service

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