Public relations specialist

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Caroline, PR business owner, 32

What do people working in public relations do?

Caroline has worked in Public Relations (PR) for over 10 years, and runs her own company based in Melbourne. "There's a lot of things involved with PR," she says. "It's not just working with media, that's just one aspect of it. It's really about understanding business strategy. A lot of people might see PR as being glamorous, but behind the scenes is a lot of really hard work."

How did you get into public relations?

"When I was at school I always wanted to be a journalist, but I was always interested in the communication aspect, too. I used to do a lot of writing and contribute to street press. I went to uni and did marketing, and it was a fantastic choice - not only did it teach me about running a business, but it taught me about how improve communications.

"Corporate communications deals not only with media relations, but every influence group that will talk about your company and deals with your company. I was responsible for sending out messages to all these different groups - groups like industry associations, government, customers, channel partners and the media. That's basically what I do today. I've been working in tech for about eight years."

What does a typical working day involve?

"It's a long day. I start work at 8.30am. What I do first thing in the morning is I read all the media and try to work out what are the breaking stories of the day, what my clients need to be aware of, and what we need to respond to either urgently or down the track.

"Then, I allocate some time for ringing clients, work progress meetings, talking about what's going on, how well it's going, writing press releases, calling up journalists and talking about what my client is doing or if they are interested in a story.

"A lot of your time is spent following up what you've sent out, trying to get onto the journalists and trying to sell your story, because you have thousands of other PR people who are trying to push their own stories onto that journalist... I finish work at about 6pm, and then spend the end of day planning for the next one."

What sort of skills and qualities do you need to work in public relations?

"Excellent writing skills and understanding of grammar, that's important. Tenacity. You need to be outgoing. You need to have the confidence to cold-call journalists, and the confidence to sell your ideas to a board of directors.

"I also really recommend you get a real understanding of how PR fits in an overall company strategy, because PR is useless if it doesn't support what the business is going to achieve."

Any tips for getting a job in public relations?

"PR today is getting highly specialised and people are looking for PR representatives who have specialised working experience in their industry, so I recommend, if you're interested to find out who are the journalists - who are the people that are talking about various issues... Make contact with them and develop a relationship, because your relationships are really critical - that's why people engage you. They engage you for your relationships with the media, as well as the strategic counsel that you can provide them."

Find out more about a career in public relations

Visit the MyFuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career in public relations.

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).