Dr. Geff Green, the Deputy Head of Department, Media Arts and Communication, Sheffield Hallam University has been part of the industry education and growth since long. Not even a slightest of change in trend can miss his sharp vision and deep analysis.
Out of his continous vigil and extensive research Dr. Geff shares his thoughts on the changing face of a career in Public Relations industry with ImageManagement.in.
If you think back 30 years to what a job in PR or media entailed, then in many ways there has been a complete transformation in the way we operate. The advances in digital technology and social media means the pace we work at and the way we communicate our messages has changed beyond recognition. However, the skills required to be a successful practitioner remain largely the same. The ability to write clearly and communicate effectively remains the core skill set for PR professionals across the world. In addition, anyone looking for a PR career must be able to understand and react to current trends, be prepared to multi-task, think creatively, and plan and analyse PR campaigns successfully.
They also need to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the trends and changes taking place within their target audience and react accordingly. They need to be able to carry out the necessary research to understand a client’s sector better so they can generate relevant stories. In India, just as in almost every country in the world, more and more communication is taking place online, whether it’s through social media or through email and websites. It is vital that PR professionals understand the trends within their own target audience and amend the way they operate to react to these changes.
Coping with deadlines has always been a feature of any career in PR. Our current 24 hour news culture means that news and news trends can easily become old very quickly. Nowhere is this trend for immediate news more apparent than Twitter. Social networks offer fantastic opportunities to get your message out to millions. There is not enough time for an approval process to your PR manager for every tweet you send so many PR professionals must be able to think responsibly on their feet and find a way to react quickly to situations and requests as they happen. Equally, PR practitioners must be prepared to manage the risks which come with any message, including negative ones, spreading so quickly and to so many people.
Companies and organisations are increasingly trying to step away from just broadcasting their messages. There is much more of an emphasis on engagement and conversation with customers. I read an excellent example of this recently which resulted in some excellent positive publicity. A British comedian called Chris Ramsey was on a train and decided to see if he could get a pizza delivered to the train as it travelled between London and the city of Newcastle, in the north of the UK. He created the hash tag #pizzaonatrain and sent a tweet to Domino’s UK pizza delivery company who replied and accepted the challenge. They delivered a hot pizza to the train at a station en-route for the comedian as well as extra pizzas for the train staff and other passengers. The tweet was retweeted or favourited more than 8,000 times and gained so much attention on Twitter that it made headlines in much of the national and local press in the UK the following day.
Anyone interested in a career in PR would be advised to undertake formal study of the discipline. A career in PR is competitive and requires you to adapt successfully to change and think quickly and creatively. You also need to be able to adapt your communication to your audience and appreciate that the press release which was a huge success in the UK might not be at all suitable for an audience elsewhere in the world. An undergraduate or postgraduate qualification will prepare you for the challenges you will face by teaching you the theory behind media trends and how they’re changing as well as a thorough understanding of the origins, history and future scope of PR. Courses, which are accredited by professional organisations, such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), ensure that the teaching is up-to-date and relevant and many such courses are taught by practitioners who can draw on their own examples and experience from organisations and businesses they have represented.
PR is a field where changes occur rapidly but this makes it an exciting and varied career choice. One day one might be arranging a press conference with national and international journalists about the launch of a new product, the next he or she might be writing a guest article on the company for a local newspaper. The only constant is that no day is ever the same. Companies, both small and large, are investing more and more in their image and reputation and the industry looks set to continue to grow over the coming years.
About the author
Dr. Geff Green is the Deputy Head of Department, Media Arts and Communication, Sheffield Hallam University.
Alongside teaching Technical and Professional Communication plus Online Journalism at Masters level he has taught Visual Communication, Multimedia and Communication Design to undergraduate students. He has also supervised a wide range of PhD and Masters dissertations ranging from aspects of Corporate Communication to Art and Design Theory and Practice.
A significant part of his job is now as the Faculty International Business Developer for South East Asia and for the Department of Media Arts and Communication, developing academic and commercial links between Sheffield Hallam University and institutions in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.