Journalism is a career path unlike any other. Most people are drawn to it because they have a knack for storytelling and a natural sense of curiosity. To add to the appeal of the industry, journalists are often presented with exciting opportunities that they may not have otherwise encountered – for instance, there’s always somebody exciting to interview and there are lots of new gadgets and products to try out.
These benefits are immediately apparent from the moment you begin a career in journalism and they certainly add to the excitement of the role. Though, as time in the newsroom passes by, many journalists will notice that their colleagues are moving on from their roles to enter the PR industry.
That’s because, as many journalists discover, the field of public relations is another excellent outlet for curiosity, storytelling and creativity.
In the world of digital media, the relationship between journalists and public relations professionals is becoming increasingly intertwined, with both parties building up similar skillsets while working together. If you are considering moving from journalism to PR, the transition will likely be very smooth.
Adjusting to PR
In many ways, the PR industry is quite similar to journalism. There are plenty of roles for storytellers, those who enjoy writing and people who love to put their creativity to use.
One of the most striking differences most journalists will notice when transitioning to PR is the change of pace.
Many journalists who have made the switch to PR will agree that it can represent a much-needed step-change from the hectic newsrooms; where tight deadlines are flung at you on a daily basis and there’s a constant need to monitor multiple social media platforms even outside of work hours, lest a massive story breaks.
Way back in 2011, right at the dawn of today’s digital news landscape, research published in the Sage Journals indicated that journalists were already experiencing increased levels of exhaustion, burnout and stress. Many journalists don’t even realise the extent of how demanding their jobs are until they move on. This can result in a mild culture shock when the transition to PR is made, but ultimately, making the switch pays off.
From my own experience of moving from journalism to PR, one of the most unexpected adjustments for me was how my working day changed. Deadlines no longer looked like a couple of hours, but rather a couple of days – or sometimes, if you are really lucky – a couple of weeks.
As a journalist adjusting to the PR industry, I have come to notice that almost all of the projects I work on are focused on the long-term. This is great news for those who are leaving the news industry out of concern for their work-life balance. The work ethic that you develop in the news industry will most definitely work in your favour when it comes to achieving these long-term, detail-oriented objectives in an efficient manner.
Another factor that makes the move from journalism to PR so easy is the relationship journalists already have with PR agencies.
Most journalists have worked closely with public relations professionals. This is true across sectors; whether a journalist works at top-tier publications focusing on breaking business news, politics and entertainment; or even trade magazines covering niche subjects like knitting or soft drinks.
This gives journalists a great insight into the work that PR agencies do. Journalists become well-acquainted with different PR companies and their varying approaches to PR. Through regularly receiving pitches and press releases from a variety of agencies, journalists are perhaps better-positioned than anybody else to determine what makes a pitch or a press release stand out.
In addition to bringing their hugely valuable insights and skills to the PR industry, former journalists also bring along their relationships with other people working within the media industry.
It is absolutely imperative that a PR agency maintains strong relationships with journalists – particularly when it comes to understanding their beats and the exact type of stories that a certain journalist is looking for. It is impossible to replicate the close relationships that journalists build with each other – a journalist knows that they can trust their former colleague to pitch them only what is relevant and useful.
If you are considering the move to PR from journalism, it’s important to remember what you bring to the table. As an experienced writer and storyteller, you can quickly recognise the make or break elements of a pitch or press release. The experience of working in a fast-paced environment where timing means everything will stand to you as you move into PR, along with the priceless relationships you have built during your career.
Kelly Earley is a former journalist who joined ClearStory International as a Senior Account Executive in 2020. As a journalist, Kelly primarily focused on the technology sector with a particular interest in big tech, developments in consumer technology, start-ups and cybersecurity. She brings this expertise to ClearStory to help fast-growing companies develop engaging campaigns designed to catch the eyes of journalists.