BlogMedia amp CommunicationsWhat Does a Publicist Do?

What Does a Publicist Do?

When examining ‘Emily in Paris’, or the Instagram posts of colleagues “working” right by the beach, it’s easy to assume that being a Publicist is all glamour. 

In reality, there is far more to Publicism than you may realise! We found out the reality of working in this industry and spoke to a brilliant Publicist in the Publishing world. 

Keep reading to learn more!

Meet Emily
What is a Publicist?
Steps to Becoming a Publicist
Future Outlook
Best Thing & Worst Thing
Advice for Aspiring Publicists

Meet Emily

Emily is a Publicist with Hachette Australia. 

Publicist - Interviewee Quote

She has been in this role since last year, after moving from another publishing company. 

Studies and Experience 

There are several degree paths to becoming a Publicist. Emily studied a double degree, with a Bachelor of Business (Public Relations), and a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Creative Writing). 

During her time at university, she was placed in a student internship with Wombat Books, coordinated by the Australian Publishing Association. 

“I was honestly super lucky as I was placed in this internship,” she explained. In fact, it kick-started her first job in the industry. 

What made you want to work in this industry?

“I always knew I wanted to get into the book world. Later… I saw that publicity is my passion, so I knew I wanted to specialise in it when I moved over to Hachette,” Emily said. 

There are many different industries that employ Publicists, but Emily knew she wanted to work in the Publishing industry. 

What is a Publicist?

Publicists are responsible for overseeing the media, communications and events of their clients. Generally, publicists will organise engagements, speaking events and media.

Their clients are often people, but may also be books, TV shows or specific products!

Roles and Responsibilities 

Emily explained that her typical day involves, “a lot of talking to event organisers and media… Making sure events can happen and books [or clients] are heard about.” 

Publicists are often responsible for several clients at once, overseeing the reputation and publicity of each one. Therefore, they must be able to balance conflicting priorities and make sure every client feels well cared for.

Because this is a personalised industry, Publicists must also ensure they build strong relationships with their clients and surrounding stakeholders. 

For a Publicist in Publishing, this may mean having relationships with bookshops, writers festivals and the authors themselves. They must also understand the book they are marketing really well. 

Which industries can this career be found in?

Publicity is a very broad field. Anywhere that professionals or celebrities maintain a public profile, a publicist can likely be found! 

Some major industries include: 

    • Film and TV 
    • Music 
    • Publishing 
    • Corporate 

What jobs do people sometimes confuse this with?

Public Relations Practitioners and Publicists are often considered to be the same. However, there are some slight differences. 

Whilst Public Relations generally manage an organisation as a whole, Publicists deal more with the needs of individuals or specific products. Think that a record label might employ a Public Relations Practitioner, but a single musician would engage a Publicist!

Characteristics and Qualities 

Publicist - Skills

According to Seek, these are the five top skills for Publicists to possess: 

    • Organisation 
    • Problem Solving 
    • Communication 
    • Resilience 
    • Time Management 

The primary role of a Publicist is to communicate will with clients and stakeholders. They need to have exceptional written and verbal communication skills, both when dealing with individuals and large crowds and be able to listen well. 

As Publicists juggle many clients at once, it is essential that they are well-organised and able to multitask. Emily suggested that writing things down so it’s not simply in your head can help to lay out your day and ensure you follow through with each commitment. 

Finally, some good resilience never goes astray in a professional environment. This may be particularly true in a career where you are dealing with clients one on one. 

Steps to Becoming a Publicist

There are several avenues to becoming a Publicist, but most industries will require you to have an undergraduate degree. 

What should you study?

A great option, and perhaps the most direct, is to study a Bachelor of Communications or a Bachelor of Business. 

You can find a list of universities that offer degrees related to this profession here!

Check out some of these Communications and Business degrees on offer:

How long does it take to become a Publicist?

Most related undergraduate degrees take roughly three years to complete. 

Publicism is considered an entry-level industry, meaning that there are jobs available straight out of university! However, to find a specialised role like Emily’s may take several years of full-time work. 

Industry Knowledge 

Emily explained that she loves Excel for organising her week. 

Many Publicists also use organisation sites such as Trello, Asana and Slack, so it is great if you have experience in digitally documenting and managing your workload. 

What will this career look like in the future?

How in demand is this career?

According to Job Outlook, both Publicism and Public Relations have strong growth over the next five years. 

Are there opportunities to grow and specialise? 

As Publicists progress in their career, many may specialise in a certain field like publishing or music. 

Emily also said that the best way for young Publicists to grow is through networking. 

“There’s a lot of network events you can attend during uni. PR industry events are great. Every Publicist is going to have a different job according to their industry,” she explained. 

Weekly Salary

Annual SalaryFuture GrowthSkill Level Rating
$54,000+Strong over the next 5 yearsVery high skill

Emerging Digital Trends and the Future of this Industry 

Emily feels that COVID-19 has been a very interesting phenomenon for the Publicity industry! 

“Just in the last year, the media industry has changed rapidly with COVID-19. We saw a lot of media closures, but we saw a lot of new media tooEvents went online, reaching bigger audiences than ever before,” she said. 

As digital marketing and its impacts increase, Publicity is changing form to include more global and digital audiences. In many aspects, this increases the accessibility of marketing techniques!

“New trends are always emerging in this industry,” Emily added. 

Best Thing & Worst Thing

What do you enjoy most about this job?

“I’d say there’s two things I love most,” Emily said. 

“I really love that I get to meet so many new people at a time… I’m working on so many campaigns and I love working with all the new authors.” 

The other thing Emily loves is that as a Publicist in publishing, she gets to engage with books that she wouldn’t have known about or read herself. 

“You get to broaden your knowledge by circumstance,” she commented.

What is the hardest thing? 

“I think it’s the stress levels sometimes. There’s a lot of things you have to juggle and if you’re not good at multitasking, I think this job can be very difficult… It’s just all the little nitty gritty things you have to stay on top of,” Emily mentioned.

Advice for Aspiring Publicists

What do you wish you had known before you started working in this career?

“Gosh, that’s a hard question!” Emily said.

“I suppose the number one thing I would recommend is always doing things you’re passionate about. I think that’s the most important thing in this career,” Emily said, referring especially to taking subjects you enjoy at university.  

Why should people consider taking on this career?

Emily said that working in publishing is a dream for “anyone who loves books in particular.” 

When considering any area of Publicism, if you love people, are highly organised and enjoy juggling different tasks, this may be a career for you! Publicists get to interact with a broad range of people and invest time into caring for the people they work with, seeing projects from inception to completion. 

Job Flexibility 

Publicism is an increasingly flexible industry in which many professionals work from home — in fact, Emily’s entire job is remote! She works in Brisbane despite Hachette being based in Sydney. 

Given campaigns are often scheduled six months in advance, Publicists do have to be preemptive with annual leave, working out the best time in their schedule to take it. 

What is the workplace culture like?

Emily said that this industry is “highly motivated, organised and driven… most publicists would have that kind of demeanour.” 

Publicists are generally centred around people, working to benefit their clients!

Lucinda Garbutt-Young hopes to one day be writing for a big-shot newspaper… or maybe just for a friendly magazine in the arts sector. Right now, she is enjoying studying a Bachelor of Public Communication (Public Relations and Journalism) at UTS while she writes on the side. She also loves making coffees for people in her job as a barista, and loves nothing more than a sun shower.


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