Communications assistants handle a variety of tasks that are designed to help promote a company's public image and message. The most highly adept assistants bring a diverse set of skills to the job, including those of a journalist, designer, video or audio production manager and social media expert. Typically, the communications assistant answers to the communications director or marketing manager in a company.
Communications assistants work with journalists and other media professionals to keep the press and public updated on company news and developments. A typical day for communications assistants might include writing press releases, company announcements and other communications to send to media contacts. They might also gather articles, anecdotes, photos or illustrations for a company newsletter. In addition, communications assistants write blog posts, landing pages, product descriptions and other web content. Many bring skills such as video and audio production or photography to the table, allowing them to create interactive content not only for company websites, but for YouTube videos and interactive DVDs.
Social media sites such as Twitter, Reddit and Facebook give businesses the opportunity to interact with clients and other stakeholders in real time. The communications assistant uses these sites to find out what's on the minds of a company's customers, have online chats or offer coupons and giveaways. In addition to providing regular updates to social media sites, communications assistants might use this media as part of a marketing or advertising campaign.
Marketing can play a big role in a communications assistant's job, according to a career profile on the Centenary College website. For example, in some cases the communications assistant helps design company logo, taglines, brochures and other promotional materials. In conjunction with these types of tasks, communications professionals will also gather data from their target market, study it, and come up with advertising and marketing campaigns. Ideally, a company can use the byproducts of these campaigns in more than one outlet. For example, if the communications assistant must make a short video, that video might find a spot on a Twitter or Facebook feed. Another way this might be used is to have the script for the video made into a PDF booklet that consumers can download from the website.
Depending on the size of the organization, the communications assistant might have clerical duties such as answering phones, dealing with customers, filing paperwork or updating computer information. The communications assistant may also keep track of the company appointment calendar and set appointments for staff. For this reason, the assistant must possess strong organizational skills and know how to operate a number of software programs such as Word or Excel.
Public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $58,020 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, public relations specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $42,450, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $79,650, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 259,600 people were employed in the U.S. as public relations specialists.