If networking is one of your biggest strengths, a career in public relations might be the right fit for you, writes Vatsala Chhibber
In today’s world, concern about one’s public image is not limited to celebrities. Various organisations have realised the value of ‘looking good’ and are taking significant steps to preserve and enhance their image. To help them realise this, they rely on the sharp, well-trained mind of a public relations officer. It is a well-known fact that our attention spans are diminishing by the minute, thus increasing pressure on companies to stand out from the clutter. It is the job of public relations professionals to ensure that their clients are seen and heard frequently and effectively.
In essence, public relations officers are responsible for handling the communication flow to and from their clients. A PR professional needs to think beyond the conventional route of advertising to communicate their client’s message to target customers. The growth opportunities in the field of public relations are immense. Aashish Hiramanek, who has more than 15 years of experience in the field of public relations, says, “PR today is a full-fledged part of the overall marketing outlay of any company from almost every field. A PR professional is involved in strategising on every aspect of communications, guest relations, event planning, media, sponsorships, spokesperson, promotions, contests, specialised shoots and much more.”
In the field of public relations, one uses the media (this includes print, television, the Internet, etc) as a tool to gain publicity for one’s clients. Public relations professionals use various methods to promote their clients or their products/services such as sending ‘press kits’, creating newsletters, organising events, workshops, etc. Depending on your area of specialisation, your job responsibilities will vary. For example, if you handle public relations for a celebrity, you will be responsible for who they give interviews to, where they make appearances, even what causes they support! In the case of a product or service, your energies might be directed towards achieving significant coverage in the media. Meghna Shah, co-founder of Tandem Communications says, “Public Relations goes far beyond just getting names of brands and articles published in the paper; it’s about engaging available resources to create a lot of word-of-mouth publicity for clients. In today’s market, we offer the client cost-effective solutions such as innovative personalized mailers instead of events, sales driven events, sponsorships which are mutually beneficial, etc.”
If you enjoy networking and meeting new people, a job in public relations will ensure your cell phone is brimming with contacts. Also, people in this profession also have access to exclusive events, parties and sometimes juicy pieces of gossip. This profession also demands innovative thinking, so if you value a creative work environment, this might be the right job for you. PR professionals also have the liberty of switching streams. You can transition from working for an NGO to handing a fashion brand, hence slimming down chances of professional stagnation.
One of the biggest challenges in this field is dealing with negative publicity. When the popular chocolate brand Cadbury faced fire due to the issue of worms being found in some of their merchandise, their public relations team had to jump to the company’s rescue and regain the trust of the company’s customers. Their solution was to use the credibility of celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan and Amir Khan to leverage the brand’s public image. Therefore, when dealing with such situations you need to be quick in coming up with solutions and taking suitable action. Crisis management is the trickiest and most challenging aspect of public relations. If PR professionals cause any damage to a client’s reputation due to miscommunication, they could find themselves losing out that and other valued clients.
According to Hemal Motasha, Director of Limelight PR, “To be successful in PR, one needs to be an extrovert, must always be ready to adapt and learn new ideas, possess good communication skills and have the ability to portray anything in various ways.”
As a fresh graduate, you can earn around Rs. 15,000 per month, depending on the organisation you work with. As you climb the hierarchy ladder and reach a senior position, you can earn anywhere between Rs. 50,000 to a lakh per month.
- Xavier Institute of Communication (XIC), Mumbai
- Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication (SIMC), Pune
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi
- Whistling Woods International School of Media and communication, Mumbai
- Stella Maris College, Chennai
“There is a need for innovativeness in PR solutions; look for strategies on how to make small changes that will make a big difference. PR can only deliver success through diligent and consolidated effort. It’s a huge responsibility – you are the custodian of the client’s brand.”
Meghna Shah and Aashish Hiramanek, co-founders –Tandem Communications
“Dynamism, optimism, logic, intuition, humility and multitasking abilities are skill sets that are inborn and need to be constantly honed and improved in order to be an expert communication professional.”
Tanya Swetta, Joint Managing Director – Id8 Media Solutions Pvt Ltd
“If you wish to enter this profession, you must know that it is not all about glamour, parties and fun. It is hard work, as being a PR Professional, you have to work pre, during and post the events. There are no fixed hours and once you start liking ‘behind the scenes’, you know you are cut out for it.”
Hemal Motasha, Director – Limelight PR
Volume 2 Issue 5