When you decide on a career in public relations, you may see yourself on top of the world planning gala fund raising events or charity balls. Or perhaps you envision your face on national television giving earth-shattering statements amidst a multitude of microphones. While your public relations job may entail some of these activities, your role as a PR professional may consist of a variety of responsibilities – from the excitement of crisis management to the tedious task of writing investor reports. Here are just a few examples:
Your client is a city of 25,000 residents with an aging population. Because of declining enrollment, the Board of Education has decided to close one of the elementary school buildings. Since it is in the basic nature of parents to object to any change that affects their children, there is a public outcry. How dare they close my child’s school that is just around the corner from our home! As the city’s PR consultant, it is your job to convince the storming citizenry that closing the building will benefit their children in the long run.
A large manufacturer has “inadvertently” dumped toxic waste into a river that has long been the favorite fishing spot in the area. The enraged residents are calling for a boycott and demanding that the government severely penalize the company, forcing it to shut down. The managers hire you to quell the anger. You develop a campaign to show the public that the company representatives are every bit as outraged as they are, that the individuals responsible were immediately terminated, clean-up efforts have begun at the company’s expense, and the manufacturer is so repentant that from now on they will be making generous donations to local environmental causes.
The manufacturing company guilty of the toxic dump is concerned that once the environmental infraction is leaked to the media, investors will start selling off their shares as quickly as possible. Your job as the PR guru is to persuade the investors – through meetings, letters and calls – to hang on to their stocks because through great PR work, the company will turn out to be an environmental hero.
With the economy tanking, your client – a small company with 50 employees – has decided to eliminate bonuses, reduce the number of sick and personal days, and increase the amount employees must pay for their health insurance. They have retained you to deliver the news to the employees in a way that will not only help them understand, but will actually get them on board with the idea.
These four examples only scratch the surface in describing the myriad of ever-increasing roles in the public relations job. Other areas of PR consulting would include governmental affairs (lobbying), industry relations, media relations, intercultural communications, marketing, public affairs and research. Wherever your interests lie, it isn’t difficult to find a niche in public relations where you can dramatically affect the success of your client and gain ultimate satisfaction in a job well done.
Bliss, L. (2008). FabJob Guide to Become a Public Relations Consultant. FabJob, Inc.