Share this story
Q: I’m the executive secretary to our CEO and she’s asked me to take over the responsibilities for PR and media relations. It sounds interesting but I don’t have a background in the field. How should I begin?
Your work as an assistant to a CEO will be excellent experience for this new responsibility: you’re organized, have great people skills, and know how to deal with stressful situations.
You should also feel valued by your boss as she obviously senses you will rise to the challenge. Becoming the “face” of the company—representing her—should also be a great career break for you.
I presume she was overseeing this function or that someone in marketing or sales, for example, was responsible. In any event, you will need to promptly assume all the requisite duties to maintain her confidence.
My recommendation is that you locate everything that was used to raise the profile of the company. No doubt there are files folders filled with clippings and articles about the company.
While it may seem rather formal, I’d also suggest you immediately review your job description and add a section incorporating your new duties.
Your boss, of course, should approve these changes. As the ambassador for the company, you won’t be representing yourself but rather you will be speaking for the company led by the CEO.
You should pay particular attention to her personal style.
The writing of a news release is one skill you should master as soon as possible. The news release simulates the format of an actual journalistic story and begins with as much content as possible packed into the first sentence or paragraph.
A timely news release—with genuinely interesting content—may be published by your local newspaper resulting in a positive image for your company.
Let the news release stand on its own merits and don’t beg the editor to consider it or tie it in with any advertising. In the event of a potentially critical story journalists may call. Treat them with respect and always be as up front as possible. Deceitfulness is never the answer and will surely be discovered. It is not necessary to respond immediately.
Take the time you need to formulate a reply—in conjunction with the CEO—and offer to email it so they can “copy and paste” it into their story which will minimize errors in transcription.
PR and media relations will definitely be one of the more interesting aspects of your job.
• Simon Gibson has a PhD in education from SFU and a degree in journalism. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.