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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014
Relatively speaking
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 23, 2012
First Published: 15:59 IST(23/10/2012)
Last Updated: 16:02 IST(23/10/2012)
At the crossroads: A public relations professional plays the role of a bridge between an entity and its market, which includes consumers, communities, governments and the media

The lowdown


Public relations (PR) consultants are a lot like media professionals, as they need to be in touch with the world around them and engage with the public. In many ways, a PR professional plays the role of a bridge between an entity and its market, which includes consumers, communities, governments and the media. Being that bridge, a PR professional has to develop skills and knowledge to devise strategies that build that connection, and make the entity relevant to the people concerned. They work with PR agencies and various organisations too. They develop relationships with the media and monitor external communications. They may also be responsible for creating internal communications or crafting an organisation’s reports. “As more and more global agencies are coming up in India, the PR industry is maturing. For anyone considering a career in this field, the growth opportunities are huge and the demand for talent outstrips the supply,” says Nikhil Dey, vice president, PRCAI


Clockwork
Unlike several other industries, there is no specific daily routine for a person working in a public relations (PR) company. There is never a beginning or an end to a day when you are dealing with information. However, a normal day at work would include at least an hour on news/ information analysis, followed by strategic planning and engagement, internally and externally. Time spent on client servicing depends entirely on a person’s commitment to his/her job. For somebody working in the lower to middle level, there is a routine for their work, given that they are involved in documentation and daily information reporting. There is a stated time for this activity

The payoff
At entry level, a person’s salary could be anywhere between Rs. 12,000 and Rs. 15,000 per month. A professional with 15 years of experience can earn about Rs. 1.4 lakh per month

Skills/TRAITS
* A keen understanding of a range of media outlets, including print, broadcast and online platforms
* Because the job relies so heavily on communication, it is imperative that prospective public relations managers hone their public speaking and writing skills
* The vision to craft strategies that reach the right audience at the right time
* Patience and the skill to engage and manage people
* Focus on results, not the time spent in office

Getting there
Public relations is one of the few careers that accepts people from different professions or walks of life. You don’t have to be a mass communications expert (although it helps). You could be a lawyer, a filmmaker, a journalist, an anthropologist, a chartered accountant or even a flight steward and yet find your way into the field of PR. Though there are many courses in mass communication, only some focus on PR

Institutes and URLs 
* Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, Pune
www.siu.edu.in/academics/SIMC-UG.php
* Indian Institute of Mass Communications, New Delhi
www.iimc.nic.in
* Xavier’s Institute of Communications, Mumbai
 www.xaviercomm.org

Pros and cons
* Creative freedom 
* Long working hours
* The job can be stressful, especially when coordinating multiple projects
* A PR professional is expected to be on his toes all the time

What should never be forgotten is that you are in the public eye, else you are not even a mystery --Sharif Rangnekar, president of Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI), Gurgaon


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