Education and experience requirements to become a public affairs officer typically depend upon the size of the agency and the scope of duties. To become a public affairs officer in a prominent public agency with international recognition generally requires a master’s degree along with a history of achievement in communications, media relations, or journalism. A person working for a smaller, regional agency might be able to become a public affairs officer with a bachelor’s degree and limited experience.
Another option that might prove attractive to someone who wants to become a public affairs officer, but lacks experience or formal education, might be via the military. Different branches of the military typically offer schooling in information protocol and basic training in communications. These courses prepare a recruit to become a public affairs officer who understands security limitations regarding information provided to the public.
Duties of a military public affairs officer might include organizing tours of military facilities for the public or official dignitaries. The public affairs officer typically produces video, audio, and written materials to promote the benefits of joining the service. He or she determines the best form of media to get a message covered, and coordinates the flow of information within and outside the military.
Once a recruit receives schooling to become a public affairs officer for the military, he or she typically briefs commanding officers prior to news conferences and advises them of appropriate responses. The public affairs officer might give speeches to civic groups, schools, and at other agencies. His or her goal generally involves bringing positive attention to the military through news coverage and addressing any controversy that might arise.
Prominent public agencies include those that serve as information sources for an entire country. To become a public affairs officer for one of these government organizations, a candidate usually must show prior, broad-based experience in disseminating information. This person might have received recognition for special projects and earned a master’s degree in journalism, communications, or political science. He or she might report directly to the head of the agency and serve as a senior advisor to the communications department.
Public affairs officers generally keep citizens informed about important information to promote safety and health. They usually write and distribute press releases to the media and act as official spokespersons for the agency when it is directly or indirectly involved in news coverage. These professionals organize and lead news conferences and respond to questions from the media and public. They commonly handle internal communication via newsletters and interaction with colleagues.