Job Profile - Press Secretary

Press Conference
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Job Description:

Press Secretaries serve as a liaison between the media, the public and government, whether it's the president of the United States, a member of Congress, a governor or a county commissioner. Almost every local, state and federal agency uses press secretaries. They handle requests from the newspaper, radio and television reporters, draft press releases, guest columns and speeches and organize events such as press conferences.

 Being a Press Secretary can bring along its own challenges.  A challenge that is often noted is the tactical challenges that are caused by policy setbacks. 

Salary Range:

$38,400 to $71,670; the top ten percent earn more than $97,910, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Special Skills:

  • Excellent writing, editing and speaking abilities
  • The ability to produce text quickly and accurately
  • Knowledge of the press and what reporters need
  • Research and fact-finding skills
  • Poise under high-stress conditions and long hours

Education and Training:

Most Press Secretaries have a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism or public relations and have worked in print or broadcast journalism for two or more years.

Typical Day:

  • Clip the morning newspapers and check television, radio and news blogs for stories that relate to the office; distribute those stories and prepare others for likely press questions that day
  • Field requests from reporters for information and interviews
  • Draft statements, press releases, guest columns or other material
  • Talk to radio and television producers about requests for interviews or appearances on news and talk shows
  • Develop media strategies to inform the public about key issues for the office

    Common Misconceptions:

    Press Secretaries are not always part of a large team; often, they might work alone as a one-person shop.

    Getting Started:

    Many Press Secretaries get their start as newspaper or television reporters. If you're in college, an internship at a newspaper, radio or television station  would be helpful. You can also take a more direct route and get an internship at a government agency or elected official.

    If you don't have a college degree, it's possible to work your way up the ladder by getting a support job and working closely with Press Secretaries.

    The popularity and usefulness of social media and the web gives people another way to enter the field, because social media  such as facebook and twitter are free, and government officials and agencies are increasingly putting them to use since they typically don't have advertising budgets.