Public Relation is a management function that involves monitoring and evaluating public attitudes and maintaining mutual relations and understanding between an organisation and its public. Public could include shareholders, government, consumers, employees and the media. It is the act of getting along with people we constantly come in touch with. PROs ensures internal cohesion in the company by maintaining a clear communications network between the management and employees. Its first objective is to improve channels of communication and to establish new ways of setting up a two-way flow of information and understanding.
Public relations as a separate career option has came into existence when lots of private or government companies and institution felt the need to market their product, service and facilities. Public image is important to all organisations and prominent personalities. The role of public relation specialist becomes pertinent in crisis situations when the correct and timely transmission of information can help save the face of the organisation.
In terms of career opportunities, Public relations is broadly practiced for product publicity, corporate publicity, to have better relations with the government, to publish corporate publications like newsletter, bulletins, magazines for employees etc.
Educational: Bachelors degree in any discipline preferably with social sciences, liberal arts and humanities is required to take up a course in this field. There are diploma as well as post graduate diploma courses in Public relations. Duration of most the courses is of one year. Apart from this there are also short term certificate courses. Most training programmes in Advertising also includes public relations. Some institutes have entrance exams while others prefer admission on merit basis.
These courses mainly cover areas like public relations principles and techniques, public relations management and administration, including organizational development, writing, emphasizing news releases, proposals, annual reports, scripts, speeches, and related items, visual communications, including desktop publishing and computer graphics, and research, emphasizing social science research and survey design and implementation.
Personal Attributes: One must have excellent communication skills, both spoken and written so has to express thoughts clearly and simply. An effective personality and the ability to get along with a wide range of people both inside and outside an organisation is necessary. Must be polite always as he has to work under pressure or provocation. An organising ability is required too, as one may have to organise press conferences, lectures, exhibitions and events. Must have self-confidence and farsightedness. He must be able to understand human psychology and take decisions apt to the situation. Analytical skills are required to interpret research information and plan activity.
Public relation officers can find employment in the corporate sector, public sector, government agencies, tourist agencies, hotels, banks and other financial institutions, private consultancy firms etc. Nowadays they can find work even with individuals like political figures, models and film stars who want their pictures, profiles and interviews published in magazines and need agents who can do the work for them so as to have a image in front of general public.
Public relations officers have to work within and outside the organisation. Within the concern they have to conduct management-employee meets, to inform organisations policies, activities and accomplishments. Outside he has to liaison with government departments, trade unions, press etc whose cooperation is required for the smooth functioning, and also have to manage complaints from the consumers, organise events like fairs, exhibitions etc.
The work involves keeping management aware of public attitudes and concerns of the many groups and organizations with which they must deal. In addition, public relations departments employ public relations specialists to write, research, prepare materials, maintain contacts, and respond to inquiries.
Another important area of work in this field is to create public identity or an image for public figures like political parties, models and film stars. It include advising them on every aspect of personality, including dress code, behavior, statement given in press, public appearances etc.
Lobbying, a new field in this career, involves bringing about the passage of laws favorable to the special interest group they represent like a company, industries, government etc. It is a strategy used to raise public consciousness and influence policy makers in areas like environment, human rights, education etc. This is an interesting area of work in public relation.
One can start with a salary of Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 a month, depending on the kind of organisation that one joins. Thereafter, it is up to one's performance. A senior PR professional may get Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000.