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Every organization, from large governmental departments to corner grocery stores, needs to worry about its reputation. In today's media-savvy society, the public's perception is what makes or breaks you a business, organization or institution.

Just like companies that are always in the spotlight, actors, writers, artists, and film directors, among others, all rely on publicity to build their careers. However, bad publicity (or worse--no publicity) can damage even the most talented individual. Often, people who are trying to make a professional go of it will hire publicists to look after the media, and hopefully ensure that they are being spoken of often, and in glowing terms.

Publicists arrange this by speaking on behalf of their clients with reporters, broadcasters, and producers, arranging interviews and press conferences, and writing press releases whenever their client has won an award or been published somewhere new or done something particularly brilliant. A publicist might also work for a film company, and be in charge of publicizing a whole movie, including arranging interviews with all cast and crew, preparing media kits, and arranging tours of the set.

Publicists must understand the foundations and beliefs of the client they represent along with the attitudes and concerns of consumers, employees, and the general public. They must also establish and maintain working relationships with important public interest groups, advertising agencies and with representatives from the journalism world, including print, Internet, and television journalism.

A majority of the publicist's day consists of working with the media, making phone calls, issuing press releases, and planning events. In fact, journalists often depend on publicists for information they cannot gather themselves. More experienced publicists will also write speeches for their clients, and be trusted to speak on their client's behalf in interviews and press conferences, if need be.
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  Interests and Skills  
Publicists always have outgoing personalities and they exude an aura of self-confidence. They are primarily communicators, therefore they must be able to express ideas clearly and logically to appeal to their intended audience. They are persuasive and creative individuals with an understanding of human tendencies. They are quick thinkers and decision makers and must be able to deal with crisis situations and appease the public if a disaster occurs.

Publicists must know the ins and outs of the company or individual they are working for, including philosophies, talents, and products. They must be interested in all areas of the media, and be prepared to forge good relationships with broadcasters, television producers, journalists, and publishers. Finally, they are often quite competitive and must be able to handle public scorn and possible rejection.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Identify the most effective and important audiences, the interests and concerns of the audiences, decide what to communicate to them and the best media to use
  • Arrange publicity for client
  • Create and maintain public awareness of client's actions
  • Conduct research (e.g. public opinion and attitude surveys) and communicate results to employer
  • Prepare and write speeches, media press releases, brochures, advertisements, reports, articles, newsletters and websites
  • C-ordinate special events, conferences and promotions
  • Contact people in the media who might print or broadcast their material
  • Provide the public with information when it is requested
  • Typical workdays for publicists are often irregular and subject to frequent interruption. Occasionally, they must be at the job or on call around the clock, especially if there is an emergency or crisis. They often work nine- or 10-hour days, meeting project deadlines, consulting with clients and devising media strategies. Considerable travel can be involved in the day to day activities of the job. They must be sure to maintain good working relationships with all members of the media, including publishers, writers, broadcasters, producers, and researchers.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Publicists work full- or part-time, independently or as part of an agency of public relations agents. They may be employed on staff at a film production company, or with a gallery, museum, or publishing house. Publicists may do a fair bit of traveling, depending on their area of expertise. They will work long hours during a publicity campaign, and will most likely have quite nice offices in which to meet with their clients.

  Long Term Career Potential  
The long-term career potential for publicists is really promising. They are masters in the art of communication and persuasion and could work in any position where mass communication is important. Freelancing is an option for publicists who have wide experience in both the public and private sectors and wish to move around in both industries, picking up contract after contract. These freelances may also decide to start up their own public relations consulting firm and contract out themselves on different projects.

There is a lot of room in the government and politics for publicists who tire of the arts field. They can find a place working for a political party or as a government affairs manager. However, should they choose to stay in that creative area, they can turn to creative writing, broadcasting, publishing, producing and even acting, and hire a publicist of their own!

  Educational Paths  
There is a variety of ways to become a publicist, yet there are no specific educational guidelines. Publicists usually have university degrees or college diplomas in journalism or communications. However, since the industry can be quite general, expertise in public affairs, English, business, marketing and advertising are also quite valuable.

Many universities and colleges offer degrees or diplomas in public relations. This is definitely a great starting point as such a program focuses on special courses pertaining directly to the industry. Internships at government communications departments or at PR firms are also a good idea for getting experience. Also, many companies conduct formal training programs for their newer employees.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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