Publicists work as the bridge between their customers and the media. They represent their clients by managing the media’s perception of them. These professionals are also in charge of creating and maintaining a good image of the person or business they represent. Publicists may be self-employed or work at specialized firms.
In government agencies, Publicists are known as Press Secretaries and act as the official spokesperson for a government department or a politician. The job of these specialized professionals consists in addressing the public regarding policies, actions, and decisions made by the administration they represent. In times of crisis or scandals they are the ones who monitor public opinion and strive to maintain a positive image of the government.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Publicists are required to complete.
- Maintaining a good public image of their client or customer by contacting and providing information to the media:
- 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;
- writing and presenting press releases aimed towards maintaining public awareness of the activities of their client, as well as a positive image;
- holding conferences and giving interviews for the media;
- promoting and advertising events sponsored by their clients to the press;
- answering questions during press releases and interviews;
- sponsoring corporate events to get media attention;
- collecting popularity poll numbers and approval rates to present them to their clients; and
- generating new and fresh ideas to get more media coverage.
- Arranging and organizing events, interviews, and press conferences.
- Working as part of a dedicated PR team where every member works towards a common goal.
- Ensuring the integration of digital and social media with press releases and media campaigns.
- Following the activities of their client in order to adapt their image to their activities, as well as the latest industry developments:
- Preventing or responding to negative media coverage.
- Ensuring compliance with the organization’s bylaws, regulations, policies, and procedures.
- Staying in constant contact with the press and media while building up an image for their client.
- Preparing press releases and rehearsing interviews with their clients.
- Reviewing, modifying, and approving press statements before they’re released.
- Liaising with Journalists and other media professionals in order to draw their attention towards the positive activities of their clients.
- Preparing spokespeople when statements have to be given.
- Keeping an eye on popularity polls, approval rates, and general public opinion of their clients.
- Holding press conferences and giving out interviews on behalf of their client.
- Doing damage control and persuading the media to have a positive impression of their client.
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.
- Having an engaging and persuasive personality capable of handling criticism.
- Full understanding of media needs and media relationships:
- Having a tactical understanding of all primary social media platforms.
- Interpersonal, communication, 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;
- having a charming and charismatic personality in order to be able to sway the press and media into portraying their client in a positive light;
- 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.
This is a very competitive and fast paced profession, so employers usually only look for the best of the best. In order to enter the world of Public Relations, candidates must have at least earned a bachelor’s degree in areas such as Journalism, Marketing, or Political Sciences. Experience is also a key factor, most professionals in this job start out as interns while studying to get their degrees and work their way up from that point. A deep understanding in media markets, trends, public opinion, and the latest events that influence and affect the image of their client is a crucial factor necessary to become a successful Publicist.
Other professionals begin their careers in other areas such as Journalism or Marketing and then switch to Public Relations using the experience they gained during their time in their previous field as an advantage.
Publicity is a very demanding field of work, both physically and mentally, so candidates must possess strong levels of physical stamina and mental resilience in order to deal with all the stress of this profession. 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, It is also very common for Publicists to be constantly on the move as going to press conferences to interviews and visiting clients is part of their daily lives.