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What Managers Want When Hiring Public Relations Specialists

Public Relations Specialists

America’s biggest corporations are currently seeking exceptionally skilled public relations specialists with histories of exemplary performance. As many industry-leading companies reinvent themselves for the new millennium, public relations executives inspire employees, shareholders, clients and communities to support new corporate initiatives. The person who can use “the message” to turbo-charge the machinery quickly will rise to the top of the corporate pyramid. “PR is not sales,” one prominent CEO reminds his PR staff. “It is lightning in a bottle—a volatile, potent mix of inspiration and meaningful action in service of our mission.”
Employers Seek Strategic, Tactical Public Relations Professionals.

The Right Stuff For A Tough Market for Public Relations Specialists

Public Relations SpecialistsCanny, insightful public relations executives teach their protégés the single most powerful secret of effective boardroom performance. One Fortune 100 PR miracle worker schools her staff, “The PR guys are the most powerful people in the big top-floor conference room, because they take command of the managers’ messages; they put the magic words to the managers’ goals, numbers and procedures. PR guys create the company’s story, take it out into the world, and always enjoy the privilege of the last word.” CEOs frequently regard their PR leaders as their most valuable allies precisely because they understand how to translate strategies and tactics into the company’s best practices. Therefore, prospective employers will scrutinize your application and resume in search of…

  •  Your four-year degree. You must have a bachelor’s degree in public relations or communications. Worthy employers will accept no substitutes. Because exceptionally well-qualified applicants currently crowd the labor market, employers enjoy the luxury of choosing the best among “the blue chip” prospects. In fact, in some major metropolitan areas, competition for jobs has grown so fierce that some employers will not consider applicants who are currently unemployed. In those markets, out-of-work professionals and recent college graduates represent “the second tier” of qualified candidates. Moreover, you cannot under-estimate the influence of your alma mater’s prestige on screeners’ decisions. Graduates of high-powered journalism and communications programs have a distinct advantage in the competition. For many frustrated young PR professionals, failed job searches yield powerful determination to return to and excel in graduate school.
  • Your professional affiliations Employers seek proof you have “that little something extra” that distinguishes you from all other applicants. Membership and participation in a leading professional organization can give your career  the edge; leadership in or accreditation from a professional organization can sharpen that edge. The Public Relations Society of America, the industry’s biggest and most influential, has 114 local chapters around the country, and it boasts more than 20,000 members. PRSA publishes several excellent industry newsletters and reports, including its award-winning The Public Relations Strategist, considered the prime source of timely information for PR executives.
  • Your experience Employers demand compelling evidence you understand how to become the company’s voice. You craft the message that drives the company’s growth and market domination. Some so-called “public relations” positions are, in fact, little more than glorified copy-writing gigs, good for refining skills and laying the foundation for a career, but not nearly high-powered enough to power your rise to the executive suite. Recruiters seek professionals who command strategies and tactics for matching the message to the mission, and adapting the message for all the company’s stakeholders. They seek public relations professionals who work effectively not only with the media but also with employee organizations, community groups, and business roundtables. One recruiter says candidly, “The best companies want a ‘pragmatic idealist,’ the person who understands exactly how to deliver perfection every single time.”
  • Your portfolio What you lack in experience you may recoup in a great portfolio. Many PR specialists in small companies enjoy great opportunities to combine their management and communications skills in developing and implementing comprehensive programs that translate organizational and financial strategies into managers’ talking points, trainers’ instructional materials, employees’ motivational tools, powerful reports to shareholders, and regular press releases worthy of placement above the fold. Just as importantly, small-company PR executives frequently enjoy exceptional opportunities to perfect their crisis management, damage control, and mediation skills. Nothing bespeaks your expertise better than the messages and materials you developed to bring a struggling company back from the brink of disaster.

Master The Public Relations Mind-Set

Sixties idealists coined the slogan, “Be realistic. Demand the impossible.” An effective Public Relations Specialist becomes a corporate leader when he or she emerges as the alchemist who daily delivers the ideal and the impossible. Employers currently enjoy the privilege of settling for nothing less.

About the Author:

Jen Redding writes for higher ed blogs nationwide. To learn more about online degrees in public relations,click here.

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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Public Relations Specialists