An information officer organizes, evaluates, and distributes information in different formats within and outside a company or organization. This person typically serves as the spokesperson in interactions with the public and media. An information officer might work for a public agency or private company where he or she hopes to generate positive publicity and respond to negative events. He or she should be familiar with how the media works and have writing experience.
Within government, the person filling this position is often called a public information officer. The person filling this job typically monitors current events and determines the best response when an event occurs that impacts the agency. He or she usually promotes the organization's actions through press releases, press conferences, and written material. An information officer commonly designs and updates the agency’s Web site as part of his or her duties.
Depending on the nature of the agency, an information officer might serve as a public affairs coordinator. A person working for a park and recreation system might provide tours and educational brochures to attract visitors to these areas. He or she might also explain the background of the agency when more funding is needed or fees increase. In this role, the information officer may give speeches to schools or community groups, helping the public understand how the agency operates.
Information officers working in private industry typically aim for positive publicity that will lead to greater profits. These employees might pitch stories to the media through press releases and personal contact. They might design and distribute marketing material for the media and public, and respond to requests for information. Some information officers use social networking sites to reach large audiences.
Providing information to the public represents a common duty of an information officer, especially in government organizations. He or she usually knows how to quickly research and compile requested documents and make them available. Technology enables the storage dissemination of huge volumes of data and might lead to more frequent requests from citizens accustomed to immediate access to information.
Some people working in this field manage information within the firm or organization. They might be responsible for periodic newsletters to share relevant news with all employees. Writing articles for magazines or quarterly publications represents another duty some information officers perform.
Requirements in this profession usually include previous work in the news business. A bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, or public relations is typically needed. If the job involves a large corporation or government agency, a master’s degree in public administration might be necessary.
An information officer should be comfortable dealing with all types of people and be able to tactfully handle any controversial event. The job might be stressful and work hours irregular if a crisis occurs that needs to be addressed. Deadlines on several projects might also add to the stress of the position.