Working in public relations is hard work. It isn’t always a nine to five job. You could work 24/7 and never catch up on your work. That being said, finding a job in Public Relations can be just as difficult as the work itself. For public relations specialists there are about 218,910 non self-employed jobs with an outlook of an additional 15,000 within the next 8 years.

When looking for a job, especially in public relations, you need to consider job searching techniques to get ahead. Increasing your knowledge in career and professional development will help anyone with their job search. The following steps will aid you in your journey for a public relations position.

Step 1: Find a referral

Referrals consist of 6.9 percent of applicants, but make up 46 percent of all workers hired. The employee retention rate for referrals after two years is 45 percent; it’s 20 percent for job boards after two years.

Many job seekers are put off by referrals because they are intimidated by asking or they don’t know who to ask. Searching for a referral can be done on LinkedIn, Career Sonar or StartWire. Look at current employee’s connections for common connections. Then ask your common connection for a referral to that employee. You may also consider asking any employee, client, vendor or others who work with the organization for a referral.

Knowing how to ask for a referral is important. A good referral includes someone who can address your work ethic and the quality of your work or personality. Some questions you could ask a potential referral are:

“Do you feel you could reflect on my work sufficiently to refer me to a job at your organization?”

“Would you consider giving me a referral to your organization?”

After you secure a referral, remember to mention that referral in your cover letter or letter of interest. Additionally, provide your referral with an up-to-date resume to look over before speaking with the hiring manager. Upon completion of the referral or interview, send the person who gave your referral a thank you letter to let them know you appreciated their help.


Check out PRticles next week for more tips!


   

In public relations you are always focused on communicating a message, either directly or indirectly. Whether it’s a direct or indirect message, you present it in an appropriate, efficient and effective manner to your target audience.

Job duties and other functions of a PR professional are dependent upon the job type. PR professionals can focus in several different areas according to the type of organization or the level of the employee.

Public Relations between levels of an organization will often exist between a director and a specialist. A director of public relations or communications will manage all of an organization’s messages along with staff. The communications or PR director will likely be the middleman between executives and communication specialists. If needed, they will aid communicators in framing the organizations message.

Jobs are usually not the same among levels of an organization, but also within those levels. All communications and PR-related jobs have the same base work or basic purpose in an organization, but they will differ depending on what is needed or what department they are in. Various jobs can include community relations, health communications, crisis management, media relations and lobbying.

Community relations involves having a presence in the community. These jobs bring information and faces of the organizations into the community. They commonly aim at providing awareness through events. The events promote the image in a positive light, but the key message may have a charitable focus, such as raising money for a cancer cure.

Public relations professionals who may need to directly deal with the effects of cancer are health communicators. Health communicators are usually presenting messages internally and externally. Their audiences can include physicians, nurses, managers, administrators, patients, families and potential patients.

A function of health communicators may sometimes include crisis communication. In crisis communication, professionals will aim to release a message about bad news in the least damaging way possible while releasing the message as fast as they can. They deal with threats, either to the organization or to its stakeholders. They have to know what decision to make or what message to release. They must make it quickly enough to minimize any damage.

A crisis communicator may hire or may be a media relations specialist. A media relations specialist deals with media on behalf of a company. They moderate the conversation between the company who employs them and any relevant TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, online content managers and magazine editors. This job may consist of constant emails, phone calls or in-person meetings with the media.

Lobbying consists of skills similar to all of the above PR professionals, but usually never makes the PR job list. PR professionals have all the same skills as lobbyists and can easily be very successful. Lobbying consists of being the middleman of communication between an organization, the media and legislators. The goal of a lobbyist is to influence a legislator’s vote on a pending legislation. In order to be effective, researching content and being persuasive are necessary attributes.

Public Relations degrees can qualify you for a gamut of jobs. Don’t let the lack of “PR” in a job title deter you from applying if you think you might be qualified. There are many different specialties, so find the one that is right for you.


   

Where can we draw the line on our right to privacy? Can our right to privacy simply mean our right to be free of governmental intrusion? Or is it something we need to be willing to give up for national security? Maybe our privacy extends to being free from photos and videos of us being released to the public? With the relatively recent advancements in technology and the evolution toward everyone’s online presence, privacy is an issue now more than ever.

We are not explicitly granted the right to privacy in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. However, the Fourth Amendment of the people’s right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” is often interpreted to encompass a person’s right to privacy.

The right to privacy had not been interpreted until 176 years after the signing of the Constitution and 174 years after the Bill or Rights was ratified. The first instance of interpretation that set a precedent for following cases was Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). In this case, Justice William Douglas decided the Bill of Rights implies that a family has the right to privacy concerning intimate details.

Holding back the right to privacy is the First Amendment. The First Amendment ensures us the Freedom of Speech and the Freedom of the Press. These freedoms allow Americans to state something without getting in trouble because the subject is either newsworthy or the public has a right to know. These concepts can be nearly impossible to overcome in that there are several strong defenses against libel, especially for public figures.

The following are suggestions for protecting your privacy.

  1. Avoid submitting personal information on potentially untrustworthy websites.
  2. Keep personal and private information off your social media accounts.
  3. Do not send personal emails on an unsecure networks.
  4. Check for a green lock to the left of the URL when shopping online.
  5. Use strong passwords. Phrases are easy to remember and harder to guess.
  6. Don’t fill in your entire social media profile.
  7. Set up a google alert for your name.
  8. Use cash at unknown stores or street vendors.
  9. Be specific with the answers to your security questions.


   

Defenses Against Libel

It is important to be careful when reporting to try not to engage in libel. If you are accused of libel, there are some defenses you have as a PR professional or reporter that are protected under The First Amendment. Some defenses include: opinion, innocent construction, truth, fair report, context, absolute privilege, qualified privilege, fair comment, neutral reporting, single publication, libel-proof plaintiff and single mistake.

Among these defenses are conditions concerning how you portray the information, the context of the information, who offered the information and who the information is about.

How you say the information is a huge component to finding a defense against libel.

Truth is an absolute protection against libel, but sometimes even if a statement is not 100 percent true, it may still qualify as non-defamatory. Defamation is using written or spoken speech to damage someone’s reputation.

With regard to the defense of innocent construction, the case depends on what the words actually mean. If the jury decides the words have more than one meaning and one is not defamatory, then the defendant cannot be sued for libel.

In a fair reporting defense, the statement does not need to be true at all. To claim fair reporting as a defense, you must report “accurately and fairly” information obtained from a public record of what was said during an official proceeding. In the case of Edwards v. National Audubon Society, scientists sued The New York Times for reporting that they were being paid to lie about pesticide effects on birds. The New York Times was protected from being sued because it quoted accurately and neutrally the scientists and The National Audubon Society.

The context of the information you present can protect you against libel. In the previously mentioned case of Edwards v. The National Audubon Society, The New York Times was protected against libel because it reported neutrally. This defense is accepted about 50 percent of the time. A more substantial defense was found in Ollman v. Evans (1985). Bertell Ollman sued Rowland Evans and Robert Novak for questioning his qualification for a position as chair for the Department of Government and Politics at The University of Maryland. He claims the column in question led to the withdrawal of the job offer. The court ruled in favor of Evans and Novak because nothing they said could be taken as fact.

The case of Ollman v. Evans (1985) developed the Ollman Test, which is a set of questions to help the court decide if something is a fact or opinion. The first question “is the statement verifiable,” helped decide the verdict in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal (1990). In this case, the journalist wrote that in his opinion Milkovich lied under oath. The perjury could have been proved or disproved, so the journalist lost this case.

In the case of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1987), the story in question was not true, but also did not pass the Ollman Test. Hustler Magazine won the appeal because it did not use actual malice against Falwell and the story was “so ridiculous,” it could not possibly be true. Actual malice is knowing the information is false or publishing without caring if the information is true. Actual malice must be proved to qualify a statement as libel when regarding a public figure, or someone who thrust themselves into the limelight.

Who made a statement could be a defense even if the truth or context is not on your side. In the absolute privilege defense, a journalist can quote someone within the performance of their duty. In Hurst v. Capital Cities Media Inc. (2001), Hurst sued Capital for false-light invasion of privacy. Capital was protected against libel because it quoted the state’s attorney.

Related to absolute privilege is qualified privilege. In qualified privilege you can quote a report about judicial coverage and media accounts of open public forums as long as they are in session.

If no public official stated something and you are found libelous, you can be given a warning. Sometimes a reporter will get away with a single mistake defense. In this defense, they take pity on reporters who have no prior offences.

If the journalist has prior offences, then he may also not qualify for trial by reason of the statute of limitations.

In a single publication defense, the most recent publication of a libelous statement cannot be brought to court if a certain amount of time has elapsed.

The last set of defenses encompass the subject matter of the accused statements. In the case of Cherry v. Des Moines Leader (1901), the vaudeville act The Cherry Sisters sued for defamation in an article written by the Des Moines Leader. The courts claimed someone who is in the public eye cannot be offended if they are criticized. This defense is known as fair comment.

In the case of certain people in the public eye, such as the convicted mobster Cardillo, he claimed that Doubleday tarnished his reputation. The courts ruled Cardillo was libel proof because he damaged his own reputation by being a mobster. This libel-proof plaintiff defense protects statements about people that are “so ridiculous” or self-damaging that their reputations cannot be further tarnished.

There are many defenses against libel for a reporter to use. Libel is a serious accusation because a reputation is a privilege of every American citizen and having it tarnished can result in the loss of a job, friends and money. Even though reputation tarnishing is a terrible thing, The First Amendment is more important because it keeps the ideals of the framers of the Constitution alive. The freedom of the press, under The First Amendment, must be protected so that people can live in a safe, just and informed world.



   

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