Public relations employees are the caretakers of the reputations of their clients. They are responsible for creating an attractive image and developing a strong relationship of two-way communication with the target audience.
This career path is highly appealing if you define yourself as an ambitious people person and like to see quick, rewarding results, but it is also a highly demanding field with little tolerance for mistakes.
A growing sector
In the past five years the public relations industry has consistently been among the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy. In 2014 public relations companies in the UK had more than 50,000 employees and contributed an approximate worth of £10 billion to the economy. Understandably, amidst the media messages of gloomy prospects for young people trying to find jobs, any industry reported to be on the rise is immediately attractive.
Alongside the practical economic reasons that people are attracted to working in PR is the glamorous image which the reputation based business has unsurprisingly promoted around itself. PR jobs, especially in the entertainment and fashion businesses, are imagined to mean jet setting, organising lavish parties, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and amassing a healthy array of freebies, but does this glitzy image relate to the real experience of the average worker?
The reality of PR work is that it is highly competitive, stressful and varied. Taking 3 amcalls from clients, pulling all nighters for deadlines and waking up to an inbox full of emails flagged URGENT on a Sunday morning can all make up part of the deal. Events that you hold a stake in are not social occasions where you can gossip over champagne, but expensive opportunities to make valuable connections and getting drunk on the job or neglecting your aims for the evening will not be accepted. Attention to detail, forward planning and being able to handle the pressures of shifting demands are key to staying afloat in this business. There is no room for sloppy planning or dropping the ball.
A huge part of the PR industry is administrational. Employees will spend a good deal of time clicking away on a keyboard, obsessively monitoring the press coverage of their clients, making endless calls to journalists or guests, making bookings, putting together hundreds of gift bags, fulfilling unbelievable requests for obscure client or guest needs and politely handling complaints. Starting salaries are usually low due to the clamouring competition at the doors of each job interview and no degree can really prepare you for the realities of the day to day demands of the people that you work with. It will be a steep and stormy climb up the career ladder, but of course, this is exactly the kind of route which attracts someone who is confident and driven to prove themselves.
Public relations appeals to people who want to have a career which is defined by challenge and social interactions. There is rarely a set routine and room to specify on an area where your individual strengths will allow you to excel. Persuasive writing skills, event planning, the ability to negotiate and build trusting relationships with the client and the audience are all crucial elements of success in this career path. These kinds of people based, communicative skills are prevalent on young people’s CVs and the PR world offers a shiny opportunity to use them in stimulating combinations.
The aversion the average graduate or school leaver has to a 9 to 5 desk job explains a good deal of the flow into this dynamic industry which offers the promise of a relationship based job with visible and rewarding results. PR is about helping to make connections which will propel your client to achieving their goals and dreams. Being able to take your belief in something or someone and use your passion to communicate that with the world is an undeniably rewarding career to pursue.
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Photo: Niuton May / Flickr