Public relations is a management tool aimed at bringing people together to promote understanding. The public relations practitioner / officer (PRO) uses different forms of communication to establish efficient two-way interaction between the company and other groups of people. The public relations practitioner helps people and organizations to gain public acceptance by explaining the aims, objectives and methods of their organization, and by building and maintaining a favourable image.
Public relations practitioners use a wide range of media to build and sustain good relationships between the employing organisation and its clients through planned publicity campaigns and PR activities. They give out information for newspaper items, magazine articles and news spots so that the public are made aware of that employer's projects and accomplishments. Their work also entails arranging and conducting public contact campaigns which may include setting up speaking engagements, writing and producing presentations, press releases and speeches, speaking for employers at community functions, planning company conferences, anlysing media coverage and managing fund-raising drives. The public relations practitioner may prepare stockholders' reports, liaise with clients, managerial and journalistic staff about budgets, timescales and objectives, or work to improve employer / employee relations, and commission or undertake relevant market research.
The function of public relations is to build bridges of understanding, goodwill and awareness between a company and the public that it wishes to influence.
There is a trend for companies to outsource the public relations role, although many organizations do employ their own specialists. Public relations must not only keep the firm's "public" informed of new products, policy changes and staff changes, but it must keep top management informed of the public's reaction to the company and its products. Because of the strategic role of public relations, it is important to maintain close contact with the upper level of management.
The public relations practitioner may work in a variety of areas or in one specific field, such as:
Important skills are excellent communication skills, both orally and in writing, excellent interpersonal skills, good IT skills, presentation skills, initiative, the ability to prioritise and plan effectively, awareness of different media agendas and creativity.
Schooling & School Subjects
National Senior Certificate
No specific educational requirements. Skills are usually developed on the job and through in-house courses in the publishing industry. Several years’ experience in the publishing industry, usually as an editor or in marketing and sales, is essential. However, entry to this occupation may be improved if you have degree qualifications in journalism, communication, business studies, marketing or an area in humanities, such as English. These courses are offered at most universities.
The Publishing Training Project offers a range of short courses including:
This type of work is specifically geared towards employment by a publishing house. The majority of publishers in this country either fall into the educational or general book category. There are, however, publishing houses that specialise in publishing for niche markets, for example, classical literature and books for children, religious and technical books.
The SA Publishers Association of South Africa
P O Box 106
Green Point, 8051
Tel: (021) 425-2721 Fax: (021) 421-3270