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  • A woman is sitting at a desk, speaking on a telephone, and writing on a notepad.  There is an open diary on the desk in front of her.

    Communications Officers promote the image and reputation of the organisations they work for. The work involves a lot of contact with other people, sometimes by telephone.

  • A woman is sitting in an office, looking at a printed paper document and making notes.  On the wall behind her, there is a large noticeboard covered in photos.

    Writing a news release to go to newspapers, trade journals, and TV and radio stations.

  • Two women are sitting at a desk; one of them is using a computer and they are both looking at something on the screen.

    Teamwork is very important.

  • A woman is sitting at a table.  There are leaflets, brochures and photos on the table.  She is holding a photo against one of the brochures.

    Selecting photographs for company publications.

  • Three women are sitting in an office.  They are talking.  They all have some paperwork with them.

    Some Communications Officers work for agencies where they work for a number of clients.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, carefully reading a printed paper document.  She is holding a pen near to the text.

    Communications Officers write articles, newsletters and other public documents such as annual reviews. They might have to proofread the finished product.

  • Communications Manager

Communications Manager

Introduction

Communications Managers build and manage an organisation's reputation in the eyes of the public and the media. Typical duties include writing news releases, using social media, preparing press statements, organising visits, answering enquiries and arranging exhibitions and conferences.

Also known as

  • PR Officer
  • Communications Officer
  • Press Officer
  • Account Manager, Public Relations
  • Public Relations Officer

Work Activities

As a Communications Manager, you will be building awareness and maintaining long-term goodwill and understanding between an organisation and its public. 'Public' refers to any group that the organisation has dealings with, and could include:

  • customers or shareholders
  • employees
  • the government
  • the media (including local and national TV, radio and newspapers)
  • local communities
  • pressure groups
  • society in general

Some Communications Managers are responsible for promoting a business or an individual person. Other Communications Managers work for organisations like charities, government departments or local authorities, and promote a cause or policy.

In both cases, this involves a number of tasks including:

  • conducting research
  • writing reports and speeches
  • using social media, email and web pages
  • preparing press releases
  • answering enquiries

You must develop good contacts with the media and encourage them to cover the organisation's news.

You must also build good relationships with different public groups. You make sure that the lines of communication between the organisations you represent and these groups are clear, open and honest.

You look for opportunities to promote the goods, services or message of your organisation or client in different and creative ways. You also need to analyse and understand the organisations you work for. You can then identify issues and predict trends that will have an impact on these organisations.

Communications Officers handle press and media relations. This means that you are often responsible for activities such as:

  • liaising with the media
  • writing magazine and website features
  • making sure the organisation or client has a high profile in social media
  • producing promotional videos and films or multimedia presentations
  • researching public opinion and market trends
  • monitoring news stories

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Communications Manager, you will need to be able to:

  • write clearly and concisely
  • pay close attention to detail, but also to see the larger picture
  • write in a number of different styles, tailored to the publication you are writing for and the audience
  • be creative
  • speak and write persuasively
  • understand the impact of social media and new types of digital media
  • work well in a team
  • get on well with people from different walks of life
  • be tactful and diplomatic
  • plan, organise and co-ordinate several different projects at the same time; you should be calm under pressure

An understanding of design, layout and printing could give you an advantage in a traditional Communications Manager role. Some knowledge of digital presentation techniques could be useful, for example, how to create digital video content for the web.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £22,500 - £25,000
  • With experience: £28,000 - £34,500
  • Senior Communications Managers earn £37,000 - £40,000

Hours of work

Communications Managers usually work 35 to 40 hours a week. However, many work longer hours including evenings and weekends when necessary.

Where could I work?

Employers are:

  • government bodies
  • firms in industry and commerce
  • local authorities
  • not-for-profit and charitable organisations
  • public relations consultancies

Opportunities for Communications Managers occur in some towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for Communications Managers to become self-employed, working independently for a small number of clients.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, in journals such as PR Week (available online), on job boards (for example, through the Chartered Institute of Public Relations) and employers' websites, on Universal Jobmatch and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most new entrants are graduates with some skills in related fields such as advertising, journalism and marketing.

A Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship is a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Universities and colleges of higher education offer degree and postgraduate courses in public relations (PR). A number of these are recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). See the CIPR website for a list of these.

A range of HND or degree courses in business, marketing communications or media studies include options in public relations. There are foundation degrees available in business, marketing and journalism subjects.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Work Experience

Some entrants might have a background in marketing, advertising, promotions and publicity, campaigning and lobbying, or journalism.

Working as an Information/Publicity Assistant, or in an administrative role in a public relations company, can lead on to Officer-level posts.

Training

Some companies offer graduate training schemes; a few might offer training for school leavers in Assistant or Support posts. Many consultancies provide new recruits with a training programme that enables them to gain experience in areas such as research, press and media relations and marketing.

The CIPR runs the professional qualifications for the industry. The foundation award in public relations is aimed at people who are new to PR or who would like to move into PR from another career area.

The CIPR advanced certificate in public relations provides the knowledge of theory and practice needed to help students begin to develop as effective PR professionals.

Qualifications

To get onto a Higher Level Apprenticeship, you will need at least two A Levels, or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship.

To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.

For entry to a degree course in public relations, the usual minimum requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • English and maths are usually required at GCSE

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC Level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Some entrants might have a background in marketing, advertising, promotions and publicity, campaigning and lobbying, or journalism.

Working as an information/publicity assistant, or in an administrative role in a public relations company, can lead on to officer-level posts.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (for example, Access to Business) could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Distance learning

The CAM Foundation offers the Diploma in Marketing Communications by distance learning.

There are degree and postgraduate courses in business and marketing available by distance learning.

The University of Stirling offers a postgraduate degree in Strategic Public Relations, by distance learning.

Statistics

  • 28% of people in occupations such as Communications Managers are self-employed.
  • 24% work part-time.
  • 37% have flexible hours.

Further Information

LGjobs

Local government vacancies

Website: www.lgjobs.com

myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies

Scottish enquiries

Email: myjobscotland@cosla.gov.uk

Website: www.myjobscotland.gov.uk

CAM Foundation

Communication, Advertising and Marketing education

Tel: 01628 427120

Website: www.camfoundation.com

Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

Address: 52-53 Russell Square, London WC1B 4HP

Tel: 020 7631 6900

Email: info@cipr.co.uk

Website: www.cipr.co.uk

Government Communication Network (GCN)

Email: gcsbookings@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

Website: gcn.civilservice.gov.uk

PR in Practice Series

Publisher: Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

Website: www.cipr.co.uk/content/policy-resources/books/pr-practice-series

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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