Publicists are employed by organizations to act as their main point of contact with the media. They act as the official representatives of their organizations and handle all matters related to the press. All kinds of organizations employ Publicists, from charities and government agencies to multinational corporations.
In government agencies, Press Officers are known as Press Secretaries and act as the official spokesperson for a government department or a politician. Their duty is to keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies through different media outlets.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Publicists are required to complete.
- Maintaining the image of a company or organization, gaining publicity and disseminating information to members of the press or other media representatives:
- Liaising with the media, creating contacts, and building a relationship with journalists and other media representatives;
- advising company executives on the strategies and options available to deal with the public’s perception of the organization;
- preparing, writing, and distributing press releases and news reports to help maintain and improve the image of the organization or client;
- attending press conferences and media interviews;
- informing members of the public, as well as the press, about events and initiatives sponsored by the organization;
- answering inquiries from the press or other media representatives and monitoring media coverage;
- sponsoring corporate events to get media attention;
- preparing media evaluation reports to present to the client or organization; and
- generating new and fresh ideas to get more media coverage.
- Arranging and organizing events, interviews, and press conferences.
- Working alongside a team of PR professionals to organize and carry out media events and promotional activities.
- Ensuring the integration of digital and social media with press releases and media campaigns.
- Keeping up-to-date with all issues that affect the company or organization, as well as the latest industry developments:
- Avoiding or responding to negative media coverage.
- Ensuring compliance with the organization’s bylaws, regulations, policies, and procedures.
- Answering phone calls and emails from journalists, responding to their queries.
- Writing and distributing press releases.
- Proofreading and sometimes rewriting media statements.
- Liaising with journalists to try to interest them in the organization’s press releases, events, and feature ideas.
- Arranging for spokespeople to speak to the media.
- Monitoring media coverage and preparing regular evaluation reports.
- Attending press conferences and interviews.
- Responding to the media during crisis PR events or negative press.
The average Publicist salary is $44,381 per year or $23 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $31,000 while most experienced workers make up to $62,000. These results are based on 2 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding creativity and a confident attitude.
- Persuasive, resilient, and able to handle criticism.
- Full understanding of media needs and media relationships:
- Having a tactical understanding of all primary social media platforms.
- Interpersonal, communication skills, and public speaking skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with clients, organizations, companies, journalists, representatives, and staff members;
- being able to write press releases and make presentations;
- being friendly enough to build a rapport and receive cooperation from their media contacts;
- being able to deal with a diverse group of people in potentially adversarial situations using a calm, polite, tactful, discreet, and effective approach; and
- being confident while addressing the public in a clear enough manner that will get the message across.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being able to cope with pressure and erratic deadlines; and
- being organized enough to run several events at the same time while prioritizing tasks.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner exercising good judgment and critical thinking;
- being a clear thinker, especially when dealing with the media; and
- using good judgment in what they report and how they report it.
- Trustworthy enough to manage sensitive/confidential information.
A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum education required to work in a full-time Public Relations position like Publicists. Degrees in Public Relations, Journalism, Communications, English, or Political Science are generally preferred by employers. Candidates are also expected to have between 2 to 5 years of work experience in the area and doing an internship in a press office, newspaper, or radio station can boost the applicant’s chances to get the position. Many Publicists begin their careers in Journalism and this gives them the advantage of knowing what journalists want; it’s necessary to be able to demonstrate a strong interest in the media and have a good knowledge of press contacts, so media experience of any kind will definitely be invaluable for the employer.
Being a Publicist can be very stressful, therefore, having a good level of stamina is an absolute must while working in this position, as well as being able to thrive under pressure. Working hours are usually 9-to-5, however, at busy times (e.g. getting close to a company event), hours may be a lot longer and weekend work could be involved. Furthermore, Publicists must attend press events such as openings and press conferences, which often take place in the evenings.