Entertainment Job in Focus: How to Become a Publicity Assistant

how to become a publicity assistant

Starting out in publicity doesn’t entail many red carpet moments, in fact it may have none…but you’ll get there.

Imagine for a second it is your job to help promote a project you feel strongly about, or heck, even one you don’t feel that strongly about. How does the idea of building hype sound to you?

Of course, working in publicity means far more than just becoming a yard barker for a project, but the crux of the job is to get people talking, which means they are going to be listening to you – pretty powerful stuff.

Like any job there are nuts of bolts of the role, essential steps to get there, and expectations once you do, which as you probably guessed, we are about to explore.

Entertainment Job in Focus: How to Become a Publicity Assistant Click To Tweet

Getting a Job as a Publicity Assistant

If you wanted to pursue a career in publicity, what kind of majors and experience should you focus your attention on?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, a degree in public relations is your fastest, straightest line to a career in publicity. You’ll learn how to write in the proper fashion, how to spin stories as necessary, how to build a network of media contacts, case studies, PR campaigns and so much more.

But PR isn’t the only way to break into publicity.

Getting a minor in business related fields will help anyone who wants to work in entertainment Click To Tweet

Anything that focuses on the art of outbound communication – Journalism, Communication, English, Media Studies – any of these majors make sense for a career in publicity. I would also implore you to have a minor in something business related like Accounting, Economics, Business Administration – because the further you get in your career the more work you will do with things like budgets, planning and forecasting.

You need a foundation in business to really grow your career.

As for experience, internships are vital to success. Look to smaller agencies for internship opportunities, not only do they need the help and will be welcoming, but you’ll also be expected to do a lot of everything. It won’t hurt to do an internship at a larger corporation – think Fox Searchlight or Disney – because even if you aren’t able to get your hands quite as dirty, you’ll have a stand out addition to your resume.

What’s Expceted of a Publicity Assistant?

As you drift off into a dream of red carpets, stunning clothes and accolades from celebrities…snap out of it. Maybe you’ll get there one day, but if you don’t nail the initial expectations of the job, you aren’t going anywhere.

publicity assistant jobs

You’ll do your share of getting coffee as a publicity assistant, but it won’t be that way forever. Persevere!

Let’s start with what employers are looking for:

  • Attention to detail
  • Thick skin
  • Manage multiple and often conflicting priorities
  • 1-2 years of experience in a busy office setting
  • Strong communication, organizational and administrative skills
  • An ability to anticipate the needs of team executives
  • Experience supporting a high-level executive in the entertainment industry

Two of these really stick out to me: thick skin and anticipating needs.

The entertainment industry is tough – things move fast, decisions can mean the difference of millions of dollars and patience wears thin. You have to be able to handle the pressure and be able to deal with the urgent tone of the workplace. Tirades are common, anger or impatience are the emotions of the day, deal with it.

As for anticipating needs, the smarter and more prepared you are, the better able you will be to see what is coming rather than always reacting to what has happened. Train yourself to think ahead without losing focus on the work that needs doing (i.e. the attention to detail part).

The more you are able to stay one step ahead, the more likely you are to be notice and take the next step in your career.

As for those Nuts and Bolts of the Job…

In the beginning you will have a bevy of administrative tasks. Persevere! Everyone pays their dues by doing the essential, but mind-numbing administration work.

Here are some of the tasks you can expect in the role of a publicity assistant (and some commentary from us):

• Provide administrative support to executive level staff – which means: maintaining their busy calendar, answering their phone, preparing their travel arrangements and filing their expense reports. (And other stuff)
• Help in preparing staff communication, presentations, research and more. This is where it starts to get a little more fun – doing research and assisting with presentations.
• Maintain and distribute publicity department master calendar – there are many projects going on at once, there is a strong chance you will be the master of the master calendar. (remember attention to detail!!)
• Coordinate festival and event processes. Pretty cool, right?
• Track publicity mentions in print, online, and broadcast. AKA – The Clips. You will find all mentions of a certain project made anywhere in the world and deliver them to your executive daily.
• Assist in managing project budgets (this is where that accounting or business minor helps out)
• Assist as needed at events such as premieres, press junkets, and press screenings.

So what do you think? Do you have what it takes to become a Publicity Assistant?


About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


  1. Jane Talley says:

    So, allright, not all of us have a degree in communication & a minor in business but we can relate to doing all kinds of jobs that require being ordered around & doing things such as getting coffee, cleaning up after a busy day at work in the food industry at a theme park, or just plain doing something that you think you have to in order to get to where you want to be. With me so far? Good! Now let’s get to the part where we are old enough to be reliable, hard worker, dependable, and oh, the best part, started from the bottom again at this stage in your life, told you it gets better… OK, those days of internship after school is also kind of not happening either at this stage of my life, see , I tried to warn you. Now what, sales, dealing with people, communication comes natural to me, and people are drawn to me like a magnet, so that helps and if I can back that up with honesty, integrity, work experience, and some college work, when can I start…. I am looking for an opportunity to interview with a local TV, Radio station, or any entertainment media out there for a chance of a once in a life time career choice in publicity assistant or whatever you deem my strengths lie in, I know whoever hires me will not be disappointed, I promise.

  2. Thank you for the article, Brian!

    I am entering my senior year of college studying PR, and I am so eager to get working. Even getting coffee excites me at this point-haha. I’m working on a possible assistant internship with a film’s unit publicist, and I love how encouraging this piece is!
    Perseverance, attention to detail, and hard work are all attributes I hope to bring to my internship.

    Maybe an article on unit publicity in the future for those looking at this career?

    Many thanks,