Media relations specialists are experienced public relations specialists who have a broad working knowledge of television, radio, and print journalism and skills in establishing a controlled, positive image in the media for a company, person, or organization. They are also referred to as communications consultants. Media relations specialists serve as the liaison between the company, person, or organization they represent and newspaper, magazine, and broadcast news editors and reporters. The number of people working in media relations and their locations falls within the same parameters as public relations specialists.
Media Relations Specialist Career History
Similar to public relations, media relations is rooted in the 19th century, when newspapers began running positive articles about businesses that advertised in the paper to encourage future advertising. By the early 20th century, literary bureaus were established to contrive these articles, and publicity agents began surfacing in large cities. However, the articles began to undermine the newspapers’ objectivity, and the practice was soon halted in the United States.But the link between media relations and newspapers endured through reporters who were willing to use language’s effects on public image to present a company or organization in a positive light. By the end of World War II, government agencies and politicians followed business’s example by hiring public relations specialists to help deliver information to the press and to advise them on their appearances at press conferences and interviews.
Media Relations Specialist Career Requirements
While your overall schedule should be college preparatory, there are a number of classes you should emphasize during your high school career. Naturally, English and communication classes, such as speech or debate, should be a top priority as they will help you hone your communication skills. Also, take computer classes and other classes that emphasize working with different media, such as radio or television broadcasting classes and journalism classes. Courses in mathematics, economics, and business will help you develop the skills you will need to work with budgets and project planning. If your high school offers advertising or marketing classes, be sure to take those. Finally, since a media relations specialist is involved with current events, take any history or social studies class that emphasizes this subject. Such a class will give you the opportunity to observe how current events are related to the public through different media and the influences these media can have.
Media relations specialists usually work in a traditional office environment and work between 40 and 50 hours per week. From time to time, tight project deadlines may call for more overtime than usual. Media relations specialists are expected to be tastefully dressed and socially poised and to maintain a professional demeanor. Often, they must entertain editors and reporters at lunches or dinners. Frequently, their conduct in their personal life is important if they are employed by a public relations agency or as a consultant to a client. Media relations specialists also are required to travel from time to time for business.
Media Relations Specialist Career Outlook
Competition among corporations continues to grow, as does the competition for funding between nonprofit organizations. In addition, individuals in the public eye, such as politicians and sports figures, continue to want expert advice on shaping their images. Thus, public relations will remain among the fastest-growing fields, and media relations as a component of public relations will continue to grow. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for public relations specialists will grow faster than the average through 2014.
Competition for media relations positions will be stiff because, as with public relations, so many job seekers are enticed by the perceived glamour and appeal of the field. However, those with journalism backgrounds will have an advantage.