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PR account handlers are employed by PR agencies or by companies’ in-house PR departments to increase publicity or promotion of the employer or client in the media; in the press, on television, on the radio and online, and to gain favour among the public and potential consumers at the lowest possible cost to the client.
Companies and agencies may specialise in a particular area, such as business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C), government, healthcare, finance, sport etc. Clients may include businesses, non-profit organisations or high-profile figures, such as sports personalities, politicians or celebrities.
Essentially, the role of the account handler is to keep the client happy and informed on all PR activity and to generate as much free publicity as possible. It is a cheaper alternative to advertising. An account executive or manager might be in charge of between one and six client accounts.
They scour the media and look for opportunities for clients and assess any coverage that the client has received. They may also be responsible for ‘crisis management’ – rectifying any negative exposure affecting the client or employer.
Executives will discuss strategy with clients before planning and implementing PR activity. They need to form and foster good relationships with members of the press, broadcast media, bloggers, advertising and marketing agencies and other influential figures and organisations.
They write press releases on behalf of their clients and send them to journalists and will monitor all media attention the client receives as a result of the PR activity. It will be their responsibility to check that all coverage is being aimed effectively at the target audience, as specified by the client.
Account handlers organise events to which they will invite journalists and other members of the press to cover the events.
More senior account handlers, such as managers and directors will be responsible for training and overseeing the work of more junior employees. This may involve writing guides or organising training days which all members of staff will generally be expected to attend. Some account handlers will be asked to speak publicly on behalf of their clients.