If you’re pursuing a corporate PR career, it is critically important to be clear about expectations of the job you are expected to perform. In the past, there have been lots of gray areas where new employees had to fend for themselves in search of career measurement. Even bosses were uncertain about required skills and progression of their subordinates, thus resulting in subjective judgment calls–some fair, some not so fair.
Fortunately, an increasing number of companies are developing excellent career ladders and matrices that spell out the range of activities, skills and behaviors required to succeed at each level of the communications function.
Most corporations have four to six job levels within their communications departments, ragging from entry-level positions that lead to manager to director to vice president with some senior titles thrown in occasionally. Be sure to ask for an org chart to determine the pecking order within the department.
Job descriptions generally are based on the skills matrix of the PR department. One of my favorite spells out the purpose of the entry-level position, followed by scope, education and experience required and the typical time allowed to demonstrate skill proficiency and performance. Expect a year and a half to two and a half years to be the amount of time in the early PR positions before moving up to the next rung on the corporate ladder.
Some organizations go one step further by spelling out expected job activities and responsibilities for all PR professionals. Those skills include:
- Networking Internally
- Business Acumen
- Agency Relations
- Crisis Communications
- Measurement & Benchmarking
- Financial Responsibility
For specialties within the PR departments, there are other required attributes. For instance, in media relations you are expected to understand media policy and practices, how to gather information from within the company as well as monitoring, measurement and development of press materials. Writing ability remains the core need for internal/employee communications, along with project management and consulting skills.
If you land a corporate position or are in one, be sure to determine what is required for success. Supervisors often are so busy with their other responsibilities that they forget to point out this valuable information until you’ve done something “wrong”.