Press officers serve as a communication link between an organization and media outlets. Their job is to ensure the organization maintains a positive image and gains publicity. If you are a competent communicator, and you are willing to pursue a degree in media and communications, then this could be your job.
1. What Do Press Officers Do?
Their duties include:
- Drafting press releases and sending them to various media outlets (senior officers often review and approve releases written by junior officers)
- Planning interviews, press conferences and other media events (if a media house wants to interview the organization’s CEO, for example, the officer handles all the logistics)
- Responding to inquires about the company (especially when these inquiries are coming from members of the Fifth Estate)
- Consulting with senior managers on some issues before giving press responses
- Maintaining positive relationships with journalists and other media workers
- Accompanying senior managers to press interviews
- Developing strategies for getting more media coverage
- Staying abreast of current happenings in the media industry
With social media rapidly becoming a favorite communications tool for many companies, the scope of work for press officers is also expanding. Today, the officers have to authorize web communication releases.
2. Work Environment
Press officers have standard work schedules. If you prefer a 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday jobs, this is yet another reason to go this job.
They spend most of their time in an office environment, only moving to press rooms when holding media briefings.
According to Indeed, press officers earn an average annual salary of $55,000.
4. Entry Requirements
To become a press officer, you should pursue a bachelor’s degree in media communications. The program will nurture your ability to craft and relay various types of messages to diverse audiences. You will also learn the theories of aesthetics and communications, as well as gain skills in using new media technologies.
Some of the institutions offering this degree include:
- Full Sail University, Florida
- University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, Arkansas
- CUNY School of Professional Studies, New York
You can also get started with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, media studies or public relations.
5. Important Qualities
To succeed as a press officer, you need:
- Superior writing and speaking skills
- Strong computer and Internet skills
- People skills
- Skills in public relations
- Quick-thinking skills
- Analytical skills
- A keen attention to detail
- Creative skills to generate ideas for receiving more media coverage
- Good presentation skills
- Good organizational skills
- The ability to beat tight deadlines
- Good teamwork skills
- The ability to work under pressure
- Basic skills in crisis management
- Good multitasking skills
6. Career Advancement
Once you are hired as a press officer, undertake the following activities to boost your career advancement prospects:
- Join a relevant professional body, such as the Public Relations Society of America, to access training sessions and boot-camps.
- Pursue a master’s degree in communications to enhance your professional knowledge.
Professional experience also plays a crucial role in career advancement, so focus on holding your position for a good number of years before thinking of moving to the next step.
7. Job Opportunities
Basically, press officers can work in any type of organization. The top employers include:
- Corporate firms
- Colleges and universities
- Government agencies
- Sports teams
- Charities and other non-profit organizations
Some individuals, such as politicians and celebrities, also often hire press officers.
With vast experience and an advanced degree, you can advance to become the company’s media relations director – a position that involves supervising press officers.
If you are business-savvy, you can move into self-employment and establish a media consulting or public relations firm.
See Also: How to Become a Journalist
In these modern times, every organization – be it small, medium-sized or large – needs a press office. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a slightly slower-than-average job growth (8 percent) for media and communications workers, you can expect to find employment as soon as you secure the required credentials. Start by making applications to small or medium-sized companies. Large firms typically prefer experienced officers.
So, if you want a career that brings out the excellent communicator in you, then maybe you should become a press officer.