Public relations officers work closely with helath care professionals.
Public relations officers in health care are responsible for communications between medical professionals or health care organizations and their stakeholders. They provide information to the public and build relationships with groups, such as the media, funding organizations and government agencies. Public relations officers aim to build a greater understanding of health care issues and can use their skills to encourage the public to adopt healthier lifestyles.
To succeed in this sector, public relations officers require qualifications in communications, together with knowledge of medicine and health care issues. Public relations professionals in any field require a bachelor’s degree in communications, public relations or journalism, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Practitioners can improve their credentials by obtaining a professional qualification, such as Accreditation in Public Relations, a certification program administered by the Public Relations Society of America. (see reference 1)
Heath Care Knowledge
Public relations officers must have knowledge of health care issues so that they understand the topics and can communicate complex information clearly. High school courses in subjects such as anatomy, biology and health provide useful background knowledge, according to the Public Relations Society of America. (see reference 2) These professionals must also maintain up-to-date knowledge of developments in their field and relevant health care legislation.
Excellent communication skills are an essential requirement. Public relations officers must have good writing skills to prepare news releases for the media or information leaflets on new forms of medical treatment or lifestyle issues for the public. Interpersonal and presentation skills are important for media briefings or public meetings that might form part of a campaign to encourage people to exercise or give up smoking, for example. PR professionals may also require crisis management skills if they have to deal with problems, such as an outbreak of bacteria in a hospital or unexpected side effects of a drug. Social media skills are becoming increasingly important in this field, according to the Institute for Public Relations. (see reference 3)
Public relations officers must be able to manage relationships with groups that influence their organizations. If they work for a medical center or hospital for example, they manage relationships with patients’ groups or health care authorities. PR officers working for health care companies aim to build relationships with groups such as regulators, medical professionals or not-for-profit organizations in the medical sector.