Do Journalists Make Good PR People?

Television Studio Many television news journalists who decide to make a career change end up in public relations. In fact, in less than two years, three of Greenough's new hires have jumped ship from television and landed here, in PR. And, they've done more than fine. They've excelled.

So, why did they succeed? The careers, after all, require different skill sets. Or, so we're told.

But that's not necessarily the case. In fact, the cultures in both TV and PR are remarkably similar. Both professions require the ability to decipher a story. This is a critical skill when it comes to writing a press release or figuring out how to successfully pitch a client.

Of course, public relations clients don’t always have major news events to rely on and sometimes it takes some digging to find the right angle. But that's where journalists know how to weed out jargon, boil down information, and ultimately write a news release that is not only easy to understand, but also gets to the heart of what is interesting and relevant.

Creativity is another must. We were surprised to read a recent article that claimed journalists, by product of a career in news, lack creative thinking. But I'd argue that weaving many pieces of news and information into a well-crafted newscast takes exactly that - creativity! In fact, developing stories and telling them in a compelling way requires the ability to draw upon multiple sources of information, and bring them together in a way that captures an audience's attention. And every day, journalists wants a story that grabs the audience. 

That, too, is what the public relations professional wants. If the journalist cannot make a story sizzle and sing, he or she will surely have only a short career in journalism.  And I think it's equally doubtful that that person would succeed in public relations either, if only because the careers are so similar in what they demand.

Bottom Line: Not every journalist is going to excel in PR. It all boils down to the person and his or her skill set. But both careers share the same fast paced, deadline-oriented environment. Practitioners in both professions seek to sift through the facts, find the story and present it in a compelling way. And because of that, a journalist can very easily succeed at a transition into public relations.

Contributed by Andrea LePain. Andrea spent 14 years at New England Cable News, most recently as an assignment editor, before leaving to join Greenough Communications. Follow her @ALEPAIN

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