Why are there so many former journalists in PR?

The Big Partnership in Aberdeen offered me the opportunity to have a placement in their Aberdeen office! I was so delighted to be able to have an experience in one of the busiest PR agency in Scotland. I have learnt a lot and now that this is over, I have decided I would write a (wee) post… about the close relationship between journalism and PR.

I was actually amazed to find so many former reporters at BIG during a recent placement, my first in a communications agency. Having studied journalism for three years, I had always been told by journalists that those going into PR were ‘prostituting’ themselves. But the reality is that PR is not what it seems: it is not about selling dodgy information. It is definitively not “pink and fluffy”.

I can honestly say that my work experience at BIG has improved my skills, both as a communications practitioner and a journalist.

• PR is all about stories, but that’s not all. Finding relevant news angles and drafting impactful articles are the main activities of journalists. But it’s also the main task of a PR executive. A story is useless if it doesn’t have the opportunity to be told. Communication is a fast-paced industry. Being a successful practitioner today involves having a deep knowledge of the numerous and ever-evolving media platforms from which to tell your story and how they reach different audiences.

• PR is about key messages. PR is not just about pitching stories, it’s about getting key messages across effectively. When writing my first press release at BIG, I thought my writing and the structure were ok but the people at BIG showed me the error of my ways and helped me to craft a release that truly communicated what the client wanted to convey without diluting, twisting or spinning the facts. My first lesson with BIG wasn’t about how to write, it was about listening to the clients.

• More than communication plans, PR is about ‘social strategies’. I learnt that proper PR involved actively building relationships with people and making connections. Would you think getting published consisted of pressing a button to send press releases? Well, you would not go far doing that. PR is about building genuine relationships with the media. I can tell now that BIG’s success is mostly based on the relationships BIG people have with their former colleagues and the understanding of their expectations. Influencers, target audiences, and broadly understanding stakeholders are the golden rules for good PR.

• PR is about challenges. Every day is different. This is what I learnt from interviewing people from different BIG teams. PR is unpredictable as messages cannot always be fully controlled. Today’s empowered consumers expect more dialogue and have more expectations with the organisations they interact with. With the advent of the social media, consumers tweet, like, share and comment on every word and move. More than ever, PR’s is about tailored stories with added value so people embrace them.

I firmly believe that PR empowers journalists; this is why I think so many media people convert themselves. I will not become a PR-story-spotter-social-strategist executive in one day, for sure. But now I know that other journalists have done it. BIG’s people have showed me the way and I will always be so grateful for it.


Merci BIG for this experience!

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