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The requirements to become a media relations manager vary widely depending on the organization. At a minimum, a Bachelor's degree in an appropriate field is required. Many companies also prefer that their media relations managers also have experience either as journalists, or in doing a lower level of public relations work. While it may be possible to become a media relations manager with just education or experience alone, this is somewhat rare.
The first thing to consider when looking to become a media relations manager is an appropriate field of study. You may want to consider a degree in journalism or public relations. Marketing degrees that focus on mass communication techniques can also help you get an opportunity with many companies. The benefit to these degrees is that they all offer opportunities other than media relations.
Internships are a popular way to build a portfolio of work in the field. These opportunities could be with non-profit organizations, or with more traditional companies. Non-profits often appreciate the help when dealing with the media, as that is a way to get their message out to the mass public without much expense. In a few cases, these internships may be paid, but those finding internships with non-profits should not expect any money for their efforts.
If you have experience both in print and broadcast media, you may have an advantage when trying to become a media relations manager. Effective media relations can only be accomplished if the individual has a thorough knowledge of both mediums. For example, good stories on television require effective visuals to go along with the words. In printed materials, visuals are still important but not quite as vital. A good still picture, which can be much easier to provide, can accomplish the same task.
Though you may not be able to find a job as a media relations manager right away, you should not worry too much, and consider other alternatives. Jobs in traditional journalism may not pay as much, but they can offer a good background in the field. Often, the best media managers are those who have had practical experience as a journalist themselves, often spending five years or more in a news position. While this may not be your dream job, it can help you understand what the job of a journalist requires once you become a media relations manager.
Anytime you can find a job that deals with public relations, it may be wise to consider it. Even in smaller companies where you may not be able to advance very quickly, it can provide valuable experience. When you can point to coverage you have secured, it provides a selling point when it comes time to look for that next job.
@Markerrag -- true, but someone can establish those same interpersonal relationships without being a journalist first. They do offer degrees in media relations and marketing and internships are available.
You are right, though. People who hire media relations managers tend to go with people they like. That's just the nature of the job.
Quite often, landing one of those jobs comes down to knowing the right people at the right time. That is perhaps more true for media relations jobs than just about any others simply because you are talking about a profession that thrives on good communications and interpersonal relationships. People who hire media relations types tend to go with people they both like and have the skills the job requires.
That is another reason you see so many journalists landing those jobs. When it comes to relationship building, their are few jobs out there that better allow for that than journalism. Quite often, a reporter will make a good impression on someone in a company or an organization that is looking for a media relations manager and will be offered a job.
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