Job as a press officer

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Carol Jones is a press and publications officer for a County Council, answering enquiries from newspaper, radio and TV reporters as well as actively promoting the work of the Council through the media.

Do you have to write stories too?

Yes. Council departments might want us to get publicity for a project they're doing and they send us details to turn into press releases that we send to the newspapers, radio or TV. We also hunt out stories that show the Council in a positive light. Everything I write is checked by the department involved to make sure it's accurate and we keep copies on file.

I also write stories for a staff magazine and for the eight district magazines that go out to householders.

What's your office like?

I'm in a team of 10, which includes another press and publications officer and the communications team who deal with our website. It's an open plan office with PCs, phones and office equipment.

What hours do you work?

We work flexi-time. I come in usually about 8.15 a.m. and leave around 5pm You can also 'bank' hours if you work longer and have time off in lieu, which can be very useful. Unless anything major happens, we don't have to work weekends.

What do you enjoy most about your job as a press officer?

I like the variety. The Council employs around 30,000 people, so I meet and get to work with lots of different people from the different departments.

What skills do you need?

You need to be confident and find it easy to talk to people. My journalistic background was essential, as I already had contacts in the local media and knew exactly what they were looking for from a story. You also need to have a good news sense.

What kinds of job do you do in a normal day?

I answer questions from journalists and reporters, dig out stories about the Council and write press releases, advise Council staff on dealing with the media, book photographers and set up interviews for the media. I also monitor the local press and help keep a database of stories about the Council.

What questions does a journalist ask you?

A reporter may have seen the minutes of a meeting or had a call from a member of the public about an issue that the Council deals with. They want a response before they write a story. I have to find the right person within the Council to answer their questions. Together, the Council officer and I agree an answer or a quote and I then relay this back to the reporter on the phone or by email. We keep a record of all the enquiries we get, who we spoke to and what we said in response.

Carol's route to her job as a press officer

  • Left school with GCSEs and three A levels.
  • Degree in film, television and radio.
  • Worked in a factory shop office.
  • Reporter on local newspaper.
  • Jobs as a broadcast journalist.

Carol's press officer tips

  • You need a good grasp of the English language and a flair for picking up and writing stories that will be of interest to the local media.
  • It is hard to become a press officer without doing some kind of journalism first.
  • Reporters and journalists respect you more when they know you've worked in their field.

Press officer related jobs

  • Advertising media planner
  • Conference organiser
  • Journalist
  • Market research executive
  • Marketing manager
  • Public relations officer

Salary of a press officer

  • Starting salaries may be around £12,000.
  • An experienced press officer can earn around £23,000 with senior managers earning from £40,000 to £100,000.

Job as a press officer

  • Many press officers start off as reporters or journalists on local newspapers or radio stations.
  • Some may have worked for their organisation in a different role, though they will also have shown a flair for dealing with the media and for writing.
  • Others may work as press and public relations officers.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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