A publicist works with a client to get him or her media exposure. They are in constant contact with the media in order to get journalists to write about their clients, since any media exposure heightens the popularity and fame a person receives. A publicist may work with actors, professional sports players, musicians and authors. Clients can also be companies, like Ford, Random House, or even IBM. It's a fast-paced, demanding career. But if you think you're up for the challenge, consider this guide on how to become a publicist.
Start with a solid education. Although there is no particular certification or education you need in order to become a publicist, you still want to have a good education. That means that you'll need a college education, at least. And since publicists are often required to write press releases, you should be fairly competent at writing. Take lots of writing courses in school, and also consider courses in media, journalism, public relations and business marketing.
Start with smaller jobs. You're not going to land any huge clients when you're just starting out as a publicist. You need some experience first. Offer to be a publicist for a local band or an up-and-coming author. Try your hand at writing press releases for these groups. It will include making posters, talking to the media, and taking the initiative when it comes to getting the word out there. Experience as a publicist on smaller jobs will benefit you as you search for larger, higher-paying clients. (You'll likely have to offer to do your publicist work for free at first. That's okay. It's all part of the process of becoming a publicist.)
Take an internship. If you can, accept an internship with a publishing company as soon as one becomes available. You can still be in school. Learn how to write a press release. Get familiar with local media, including reporters and journalists. A publicist internship is a great way to get experience and improve your chances of getting a permanent job as a publicist after school, since you'll have more experience than your graduating classmates. (In the meantime, make sure that you do your best at your current internship, because you never know when a full-time career as a publicist might become available at the company your internship is with.)
Become web-savvy. Any good publicist knows that a website is crucial to the success of his or her clients. So you should learn about setting up websites that will help promote your clients. Take a few courses on what makes websites attractive, what changes can be made to them to make them more successful, and what general things must be included on all websites. Having this know-how is a skill that all clients want their publicist to have.
Start working. Once you've got some related experience or education, you can start your career as a publicist. Apply to publicist jobs often and try to ace the interview. Since competition will be fierce, you may need to consider other avenues for becoming a publicist. You could always do some freelance publicity work until your career takes off. Any experience is good experience when it comes to starting your career as a publicist.