What is a press office and what are its functions?

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The press office is a function within the communications department that manages the conversation of companies and organisations with one of their target audiences key: the media.

These functions can be developed both from within the organizations and from outside, using the services of specialized communication agencies . Its main mission is to organise and coordinate different strategic actions with the media in response to the objectives set (reputation, notoriety, strategic positioning, brand image, etc.) and in accordance with the action plan;

What are the functions of a press office?

Among the most basic functions of a press office we can find:

  • Construction of the news story;
  • Elaboration of basic communication materials (key messages, question and answer document -Q&A-, thematic argumentation…);
  • Identification of key journalists, creation of specific databases and media agenda;
  • Relations with the media and journalists: management and handling of press requests, presentation of proposals, etc.
  • Organisation of joint activities;
  • Creation and dissemination of information content (press releases, opinion forums, current affairs commentaries, etc.).
  • Management of interviews and other communication tools;
  • Identification of information opportunities linked to current affairs;
  • Active listening: company, sector and competition.

The reality is that there is a diversity of conceptions regarding the communication tasks of a company or organisation, so that, in some cases, the press office performs the functions of a communication department, taking the parts for the whole; Hence, many press offices include functions related to the area of the Public Affairs, public relations, protocol, institutional relations, etc.

In any case, the main challenge for any press office is to be able to realistically define the conversation with the media in an increasingly liquid environment, in which we must not stop innovating and designing new models, channels and languages to connect with our audiences;

The role of the press officer

The press officer has a decisive role within this department and his basic functions are:

  • Define and lead the media strategy;
  • Personal relations with journalists;
  • Select the most appropriate communication tool depending on the context or the objective to be achieved (press release, media call for press event, video, presentation, report, interview, infographic, etc.);
  • Define messages/communication materials for spokespersons and prepare public interventions. (E.g.:press conferences, speeches, etc.).
  • Active listening to the media to identify issues and opportunities arising from current news;
  • Coordinate with the different communication teams; You will need to ensure that the communication strategy with media is coherent with other areas or functions (external communication, internal communication, digital communication, etc.). That is to say, even if the press officer is not personally responsible for preparing, for example, copies for social media, he/she must supervise and be aware of all the contents published in them, as well as in all the company’s communication channels (web, blog, newsletter, internal bulletin, etc.) so that the company’s story is consistent;
  • Set KPIs
  • Evaluate results and if necessary, refocus the strategy;

The evolution from press office to communication department

There is some confusion about what exactly a press office is; This is mainly because it is an old concept; What used to be a press office is now – in most cases – a communications department;

Press offices have undergone an important evolution in recent years, mainly due to the new channels and ways of relating that companies have nowadays with their public; Traditional media have undergone a transformation driven by the Internet, with the rise of social media as one of the main channels of interaction;

The press office and the new information ecosystem

This has led to the emergence of a new information ecosystem in which it no longer makes sense to engage only with the media in one way; Relationships go much further; And this is where the press office, conceived purely for managing relations with the media, has been forced to transform itself into a communications department that can respond to the new needs of companies to relate to the media;

In this sense, and immersed in a changing and increasingly complex and diverse context, it is increasingly important for companies to count on the strategic advice of partners with experience in the development of 360º communication strategies, such as comma agency, to help them manage relationships with their target audiences in the most effective way; A great deal will depend on this:

  • Generating a relationship of trust with the media that can be maintained over time.
  • To be able to transmit the company’s purpose and value proposition.
  • Achieve the desired reputation and brand positioning;
  • Generate notoriety and visibility: publicise new products, initiatives, corporate milestones, etc.
  • Differentiate yourself through communication
  • Achieve your business objectives

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