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The duties of a press assistant depend largely upon the employment context. If a print publication advertises a press assistant position, it is literally a position that helps manage the press machines that print the publication by replacing supplies and watching the machine operate. A more general job context is in the area of communications, however. For-profit and nonprofit organizations hire a press assistant to provide support for a communications department and to serve as an adjunct to a director of communications, public relations manager or press secretary.
A press assistant is ordinarily required to provide administrative support to a communications department or to act as supporting staff for a communications executive. The job requires writing, speaking and organizational skills. It may also require a level of familiarity with computers, Internet applications and general office administration. Frequently, he is involved with the organization's social media implementation and must be conversant with the latest trends in this area of communications.
On a daily basis, a press assistant might be required to draft press releases and official statements. He will likely have to develop and maintain a press contact list. Assistants may be allowed to develop stories and to pitch them to others in the department. During special events and events set up specifically for the media, the assistant acts as an event coordinator of the media components, placing phone calls to ensure media attendance, preparing media kits and providing support as needed. In some cases, he will be required to manage components of the organization's social media effort, contributing to blogs or managing networks.
Internally, a press assistant is often assigned research tasks to help the company stay updated on any mentions of its personnel, business practices, products or services in the media. The assistant might be required to contribute to internal documents and participate in trainings designed to educate employees on proper media etiquette. Likely, a press assistant will have some involvement with internal communications protocol and drafting copy for marketing materials, newsletters and websites.
In the political arena, a press assistant can be hired to work with a press secretary on campaigns and as part of the permanent staff in the offices of incumbents. Assistants in this context work to craft the politician's public message and help handle the information that gets released to the press. The duties of this type of assistant tend to be more narrowly focused on media management, rather than general communications. The work can also be more stressful, as political information is often sensitive and time-critical.
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