Chartered Institute of Public Relations

What is public relations?

Every organisation, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success. Customers, suppliers, employees, investors, journalists and regulators can have a powerful impact. They all have an opinion about the organisations they come into contact with - whether good or bad, right or wrong. These perceptions will drive their decisions about whether they want to work with, shop with and support these organisations. In today's competitive market and uncertain economic climate reputation can be a company's biggest asset – the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you a competitive edge. Effective PR can help manage reputation by communicating and building good relationships with all organisation stakeholders.

Definitions of PR

Public relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. It is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. The UK PR industry is the most highly developed in Europe and second only to the US globally. Over the past decade there has been a high growth rate in the profession. This high growth rate reflects the recognition and importance given to public relations.

Is PR for you?

First of all it is important to establish what your expectations of public relations are. Reading through the careers information on this website will give you an idea of what working in PR involves. PR is not is th e stereotypical image portrayed on the TV which includes long boozy lunches and glamorous parties. While the role will include this occasionally it will probably not be in your junior roles. PR is a very rewarding career but it involves a lot of hard work, dedication, professionalism and stamina. It can offer an incredibly varied and challenging career, encompassing many different activities. As with many jobs, the proof is in the pudding and you will only find out if you are suited to PR through experience in the field.

Some questions to ask yourself when considering PR as a career…

Do I have an interest in what's going on around me?

PR practitioners need to be aware of current trends and issues. Keeping up to date with the world around you is vital when advising clients or brainstorming campaign ideas. Make sure you read a daily paper or watch the news or the occasional current affairs programme. Or if there is a particular sector of PR you want to go into read up on what is currently going on in that industry. It will show commitment and a genuine interest to your prospective career.

Do I have good communication skills?

PR practitioners must be confident talking to a wide range of people – for example, your role may involve presenting to clients, dealing with journalists and meeting with groups of people important to your organisation or client. You also need to have excellent writing skills as you could be producing press releases, annual reports, articles and newsletters.

There are certain essential qualities and skills that you will need to get ahead in PR

These include:

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • The ability to multi task and manage your time effectively
  • A good level of organisation and planning
  • An interest in all forms of media
  • Flexibility

Do I cope well under pressure?

PR roles can be incredibly varied so you will need to be able to organise your workload in order to meet strict deadlines. The ability to multi task is essential, and a flexible attitude important. If you are looking for a 9-5 job, then PR is probably not for you – your position may involve early starts, late finishes or time at the weekend.