Turning over to the dark side: From Journalism to PR – By Yaso McMillan, PR/Marketing Assistant, InsideOut PR
With journalists and public relations teams working so closely with one another, the misconception that both roles encompass two sides of the same coin can often throw journalists if they haven’t had business exposure.
Contradictory to this perception, there are also highly valued skills that journalists can bring to a PR agency that would otherwise be harder to come by and can be considered influential in campaign direction.
The fear of selling their soul by transitioning into PR stems from the fear of losing creative licensing and story-telling capabilities that journalists feel they can only achieve in their line of work. I can assure you that this is not always the case.
As a former journalist with no prior experience in PR, the transition and style of work did come as an initial shock, but there were things that I found much easier to wrap my head around. In debunking common fears, I’ve developed a list to help those on the fence about making the switch.
It’s all business and no fun
As with any business, account management and sales are an important part of business maintenance, but there are levels of creativity that Journalists have an advantage over. Creativity takes different forms. I was completely surprised with the amount of creativity that goes into developing strong and impactful campaigns. And, yes, unfortunately you are confined to deliver ideas within the clients’ brief, but it isn’t it similar to receiving assigned stories from your editor? Brainstorming sessions are also so much more fun with a bigger group and a larger budget.
I won’t get to work on anything that actually matters to me
Most PR agencies occasionally bring on a pro bono client, and often opportunities present themselves that could align existing clients with charitable campaigns. The need to push boundaries to make an impact on these not-for-profit projects stems from the competitive nature between agencies to get ahead and provide positive publicity. If these projects don’t matter, I’m not sure much else would.
I’m not a sales person
This particular fear rang true for me, having no prior experience in business. Initially, coming into the agency and not knowing much information, I found it hard to even pick up the phone and pitch ideas. Every person has strengths and weaknesses and this is something that I had to learn. As I familiarised myself with the clients and campaigns, it was easier to adjust. Journalists have value, regardless. They have exceedingly strong writing skills and insider knowledge on newsworthy topics that assist with ideas generation.
The growing number of journalists transitioning into PR is a reflection of the growth of the industry and the number of opportunities available in this media oriented environment that we live in. In short, ‘selling my soul’ was the change I needed.