When I began my career in PR, it was an exciting adjustment. Having come from the world of journalism, I was used to finding a story and bringing it to life on the page. An interesting fact or detail would capture my imagination and I would recreate that story for the reader. When I took the leap of faith and joined PR, I quickly found that I was the one now responsible for enticing the journalist and building that fascinating narrative that compels a journalist to want to write about a story.
I was initially concerned that the skills I had acquired during my college years and various writing jobs would not be applicable in this new realm. I had no PR experience, but much to my relief and one thing everyone should know about PR, is that many of those skills are entirely transferable.
Can I use my journalism skills in PR?
PR requires a lot of the skills that make a strong employee including organisation, punctuality and adherence to deadlines. But I was delighted to find that many of the skills somewhat specific to journalists are also valued in public relations. These include strong writing skills, a natural curiosity, a good eye for a story and a willingness to dig deeper. In PR, when working with clients, you often have to burrow down to the heart of a person or company, find out what makes them unique and then convince everyone else. It allows for great creativity and an in-depth understanding of the client and the sector that they operate in.
On occasion, in PR and particularly when employed in the technical field, you may work with a technology or a concept that you don’t fully understand. However, the structure allows you to research extensively and further your knowledge, which undoubtedly benefits the client, your employer and yourself. It is a fantastic opportunity to get up to speed on new and emerging technologies that will stand to you wherever your career may take you.
So, should you switch from journalism to PR?
PR is a solid career move for anyone in journalism considering a switch, as the relationship between journalists and PR personnel is a vital one. It depends on a strong, positive network and puts you in touch with a range of interesting industry professionals, many of whom you may already have been in contact with. It encourages strong working relationships and fosters a sense of comradery.
One thing to note is that there is a definite difference in pace. In journalism, you may have only hours to source a story, capture the essence of it, and send it for sign off. PR on the other hand can be very different. While working in PR, you learn all that you can about your client, their career journey and how they got to where they are today. As a PR professional, you get to immerse yourself fully in a narrative that you helped create and to see how that journey plays out, from start to finish – is inspiring!
All in all, if you take anything away from this, it is that a career jump from journalism to PR is not only do-able, but rather could be the start of an exciting new opportunity that you already have the skills for.
Laura Varley is a journalism graduate of NUI Galway and joined ClearStory International in May of 2021. She has experience writing across a broad range of subjects including business and technology and worked at the Connacht Tribune and Babylon Radio, before starting a new career in PR.