Last July, after being a television news producer for over three years, I left the journalism industry to pursue a new career path in public relations. Many former journalists (including our very own Henry Feintuch) have successfully made the switch to the new, yet related field of public relations. I knew that I would face some challenges in the transition, but I also knew that there was a strong relationship between both professions and I was excited to translate the skills I’d developed as a producer to my new career as a PR professional.
There are probably more similarities than there are differences between journalism and public relations but here are, in my humble opinion, the top five similarities:
1. No two days are the same
Much like in a newsroom, where your work is determined by the news of the day, no two days are alike as a PR professional. What I find exciting about PR is the variety of work from day to day. We represent many different clients, with many different needs and objectives that require different approaches and strategies. Whether you’re a journalist or a PR professional, your days are busy and full and there’s always something new to tackle each day.
2. Clear and concise writing reigns supreme
In both professions, efficient and timely communication is the key to success. Journalists and PR professionals keep their intended audience in mind when writing and try to relay information that’s both engaging and easy to understand. Whether it’s writing a press release or a feature story, to grab the audience’s attention and keep them engaged, the writing and the message must be clear and concise.
3. It’s all about the story
Both journalists and PR professionals are in constant communication with the public. Yes, there is more strategy involved on the PR side of things, but ultimately, it’s all about telling your clients’ story. I’ve had to put on my “journalist thinking cap” to interview some of our own clients to gain a new perspective or a new angle that could then be turned into a pitch, by-lined article or press release. Journalists know there’s always a story waiting to come out if you’re willing to look for it.
4. Trust and credibility are imperative
To be successful in both journalism and PR, it’s crucial to develop credible and meaningful relationships. PR professionals need to build relationships with reporters in order to get coverage for their client and reporters must have credibility with the public in order for their story to gain an audience. Both journalists and PR professionals build these relationships through relaying honest and credible information.
5. Using your “news sense”
Journalists are constantly asking themselves, “Will people care about my story and if not, how do I shape it so that they do?” PR professionals, on the other hand, are asking themselves a very similar question when shaping press releases: “Will a journalist buy this and if not, how do I make them interested?” At the end of the day, the goal is to use your “news sense” to determine how to best shape a story for your intended audience.
I’ve been an account executive for nine months now and I still learn something new every day. When I look back on my short tenure in public relations, I’m thankful for my time as a news producer and the invaluable perspective it’s given me as I continue to grow and learn as a PR professional. In my next post, I’ll cover the major differences between journalism and public relations. Until then, thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!