What Does a Press Officer Do?

Cassie L. Damewood

A press officer, also known as a public relations specialist or press secretary, is the official spokesperson for her employer. Her job is to develop, project and maintain a positive impression of the individual or company for which she works. She may work for a large or small company and may be employed in either the public or private sector.

Press officers may speak to the media to share details about a trial.
Press officers may speak to the media to share details about a trial.

Communications are normally the press officer’s area of specialty. All inquiries made by the media regarding her employer commonly go directly to her. She is generally expected to answer these questions with diplomacy and discretion, based on the opinions and views of her employers. These inquires may be made via telephone, e-mail or in person.

Press officers may put together information releases for print.
Press officers may put together information releases for print.

In addition to answering inquires, a press secretary is typically expected to create a positive image of her employer and ensure that impression does not fluctuate. She may do this through holding press conferences and news interviews as well as writing articles and press releases. Success in this position is frequently achieved through proactively promoting an image and building upon that representation.

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Press officers typically act as an official spokesperson.
Press officers typically act as an official spokesperson.

If her employer is negatively represented in the press or accused of an unsavory act or viewpoint, she is ordinarily expected to suppress the disapproval while reiterating positive actions and perspectives. She is ordinarily expected to monitor all media sources to identify and respond to stories as quickly as possible. Her employer normally gives her the authority to represent him, her or the company in all public communications.

Press officers work to maintain the client's image or messaging through events like press conferences and interviews.
Press officers work to maintain the client's image or messaging through events like press conferences and interviews.

Any written communications compiled by the employer’s staff and distributed to the public, such as informational flyers, brochures or leaflets, typically require the approval of a press secretary. She is generally expected to carefully scrutinize these documents to ensure no concepts or statements are subject to negative or questionable interpretation. The employer may be consulted if the angle of the content is unclear to the press officer.

An employer’s relationship with a press officer is usually personal and confidential. Their close bond and friendly communications generally enable her to sensitively and sincerely represent the employer to the public with empathy and authenticity. A person in this position is commonly included in family gatherings and often considered a friend as well as an employee.

Organizational abilities are important to be an efficient press officer. The job is frequently demanding and involves juggling multiple tasks. Project prioritization skills are an asset to a press secretary.

A bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, media relations or communications is normally required for this position. Experience in these fields is also highly preferred. A background in business administration or a liberal arts education are considered pluses for job candidates in this profession as well.

Press officers may respond to emails and other messages on behalf of a client.
Press officers may respond to emails and other messages on behalf of a client.

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