The Dark Side and The Fourth Estate
To hear PR referred to as “the Dark Side” conjures up images of The Emperor and Darth Vader from “Star Wars.”
As a journalism student, I remember the lines drawn in the sand between us members of the Fourth Estate and “those flacks” in PR. But due to limited work in print newspapers, and the need for something more steady than freelance, I fell into the public relations field.
Having made the switch, it was cathartic to read Daniel Hindin’s post on Spin Sucks about his experience making the move to PR. Josh Brett also articulates the feeling of moving between fields in a recent post on PR at Sunrise.
Regardless of where my career path has taken me, working as a reporter helped prepare me for my current career in PR. Here are a few parallels I have observed:
Value of Perseverance – as a reporter, I would have to persevere to find that right sources for my story. Sometimes, it would take a few phone calls and brief interviews to get to the right person. Same goes with developing media contacts in PR; you may need to make a few phone calls to find out which newsroom contact is right for your pitch. Either way, this process keeps me in a constant state of learning, working, and exhibiting the perseverance needed to complete the task at hand.
Story is Key – my editor wouldn’t listen to my newsroom pitch if I couldn’t tell a compelling story to support it. Readers won’t get past more than the opening graph unless there’s a story line that draws them in. The same logic goes for PR pitches. I am constantly challenged to find the compelling story angle that guides a media pitch or ties together a newsletter. It’s more than hitting on a few talking points and keywords; it won’t stick unless there is something genuine behind it.
Good Research - it’s important to do your homework, no matter how old you are. Research in PR is a necessity, be it for a backgrounder, a corporate biography, or a fact sheet. Thank goodness I had to back up my claims for news stories. Research skills teach us to be curious, to ask questions, and to keep digging–characteristics that are applicable to both journalism and public relations.
Have a Sense of Humor – humor carries me through each day and keeps my ego in check. It’s easy to get carried away by the seriousness of our jobs and professional responsibilities, whether you’re a journalist or a PR professional. But try to lighten up a little. Watch a viral video on YouTube or read that cat photo blog for a few minutes. It’s good to bring a small ray of sunshine into our lives every day, as cheesy as it may sound.
Although Luke Skywalker was a Jedi warrior through and through, he couldn’t separate himself from his familial lineage to the Dark Side. I can relate to this sentiment of not forgetting one’s previous life. Even though I work in PR, I still feel the force of my reporter roots. PR and journalism are not that dissimilar; I see them as symbiotic and complimentary of each other.
Has anyone else made the jump from journalism to PR? Perhaps even the other way around? What parallels are you able to draw from both worlds?