Press Office (© Microgen / Fotolia.com)
Press Office (© Microgen / Fotolia.com)

You’ve likely heard the term press office at some point in the past but may not have known why it exists or what people inside a press office actually do. In this article, we will be defining the press office in detail, as well as giving some examples of what happens inside a typical press office and who needs to establish one for their company or organization.
 

What is a Press Office?

A press office is simply an informal name for the part of the company that handles public relations or deals with the press. Sometimes it refers to an actual office – or a group of them – while other times it simply refers to the people within that department. Many different organizations have press offices; from the Catholic Church to the Walmart Corporation. The press office might go by different names, depending upon the organization. Sometimes it is called the public relations office, sometimes the media office or a dozen or more other names. The name isn’t important – it is what the office does that determines whether or not it is a press office.

The Press Officer

The backbone behind the press office is the press officer, also called a public relations officer or PR representative. These are the people that define the press office by what they do. These people have a lot of jobs, but their main objective is to promote a positive image of their company whenever possible and to solve public relations problems that might arise. Let’s look at some examples of things that a press officer might do.

  • Communicate with journalists, either by answering the phone when they call or by contacting him directly. Some journalists may make media inquiries by email so the press officer will have to use that channel of communication as well.
  • Develop relationships with journalists, sometimes by trading information. Having advance notice when the story is about to be published that casts the company in a negative light can be helpful when dealing with the public perception. Often times, the press officer can get ahead of things if they know a story is going to be published.
  • Another big part of what a press officer does is writing press releases. The press release is simply a specially formatted document that announces something newsworthy about the company, such as an upcoming event or product launch, designed in the hope that journalists will run it in the next publication. This is one of the ways in which newspapers, news websites, television stations, radio networks and other media get their information about current events.
  • The press officer also needs to conceptualize and design complete media plans that will improve the company’s reputation or expand public awareness. This is not usually the same thing is advertising companies may advertise their products and services as well, but the press office has to do with more media coverage about the company itself, its officers and events that may be happening.
  • The press officer is also usually the spokesperson for the company. In larger companies, there may be multiple people within the public relations or press office. In this case, there will be a hierarchy and everyone will have different jobs. But in a smaller organization, one person may be required to do just about everything.
  • The press officer will usually hold press conferences as well, or sometimes simply manage a media event like a press conference where the CEO or another executive is going to speak.
  • In addition, the press office is often responsible for social media as well, although with larger companies this may be a completely separate department because social media can be used for marketing purposes as well as for controlling public perception of the company.

Who Needs a Press Office?

So, what kind of company needs a press office? In a way, every company has a press office, even though with small companies that office may also serve as the office of the owner or CEO. Any company that is concerned with media coverage or wants to develop a relationship with journalists in order to improve image and control what goes out to the public as much as possible should establish a press office.

Summary

To summarize, the press office is an important part of any organization and has a lot of responsibilities. While the press office may not be a physical office, it usually is, and may be staffed by one or more press officers who also go by the name media representative, public relations representative, PR officer and many more. The press office is responsible for dealing with the press, controlling the public perception, getting ahead of problems and handling pretty much everything has to do with media coverage or how the general public sees a company or the people behind it.


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