When British celebrity Jade Goody received massive criticism for making racist remarks against Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on the Big Brother show, her Public Relations team designed an elaborate crisis PR campaign, which included several media appearances and public apologies, press releases, participation in several other reality shows, a visit to India, association with charities, and several new product launches, to change her image in the eyes and minds of the public.
As a Public Relations or PR professional, you will be responsible for projecting a strong brand image of a product, individual, group, institution or organization in the minds of the public. The catch here is that you will have to do so without incurring any expenses. Are you up for the challenge?
What is PR all about?
Public Relations is the practice of maintaining and shaping the image of a product, individual, group, institution or organization in the eyes and minds of the public. The Public here could mean consumers, suppliers, vendors, potential clients, prospective employees, voters, media, students, local and international citizens, etc.
A successful PR person is one who is able to understand the interests and concerns of each one of these stakeholders and effectively addresses them. PR professionals have to work extensively with the media and the press, plan and implement social media campaigns and associate their clients with causes and initiatives that will enhance their brand value.
Some of the key activities that PR professionals have to undertake include:
- Write and distribute press releases
- Speech writing
- Write pitches about a firm and send them directly to journalists
- Execute special events designed for public outreach and media relations
- Conduct market research on the firm or the firm’s messaging
- Expansion of business contacts via personal networking or attendance and sponsoring at events
- Copywriting and blogging for the web
- Crisis public relations strategies
- Social media promotions and responses to negative opinions online
For a career in Public Relations, a student should ideally pursue Commerce at +2 level, followed by a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations or Mass Communication. Alternatively, they can also pursue Commerce, BBA, BBS, BBE or BMS, which will introduce them to the world of marketing and businesses. Post-graduation in the field of Public Relations OR Communication Management is a must for a successful career in this field.
In India, there are several educational institutions that offer specialized PG-courses in the field of Public Relations and related fields. Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication offers a two-years PG diploma in Communication Management with an option to specialize in Public Relations in the second year. Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai offers a one-year diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi offers a one year PG course in Advertising and PR.
Other institutes that offer courses in this field include Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmadabad; Makhanlal Chaturvedi University of Journalism, Bhopal; National Institute of Advertising, New Delhi; YMCA Institute of Media Studies, Delhi and the University of Pune, Pune.
Apart from formal education in this field, students should also undertake internships and live projects in the field of Media Management, Public Relations, Mass Communication, Corporate Communications with all kinds of organizations, large as well as small, to gain a practical exposure of the work involved in this career field. These experiences will also count at the time of applying for full-time PR jobs.
The cost of pursuing a master’s diploma or degree program in PR will depend on the institute you are pursuing it from. As government colleges are highly subsidized, the cost of pursuing the course from a government college will be very low whereas private colleges may be costlier. All in all, pursuing a PG course in PR may cost you anywhere from Rs 50000 to several lakhs depending on the institute you pursue it from.
If you are a graduate seeking an opportunity in the field of PR, you may get hired as an account executive or associate, where you can earn close to Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per month. As a post-graduate, you are likely to start off with a better role and pay.
Seasoned Public Relations professionals with roles like Account Manager, Communication Manager typically earn a decent remuneration of Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000 a month. Once you spend considerable time in this profession and make a name for yourself in the industry, the sky’s the limit for you when it comes to your earning potential.