For years I watched friends and coworkers bolt from the television industry for a career in Public Relations. And to be honest, the thought crossed my mind on more than one occasion over the years, but I hesitated joining what some journalists call “the dark side.” After 10 years as an on-air reporter and anchor, I saw the tide shift in television news, and I made the move to Public Relations.
As television and print newsrooms continue to see their staff numbers decimated by budget cuts and changes in structure, the need for public relations professionals is increasing. Reporters are being asked to do more and more, and now more than ever they rely on PR pros to do their jobs.
The transition from reporter to PR pro came naturally for me. Non-traditional and social media sources continue to grow and thrive, and news will always be delivered to the public. PR professionals are a vital reason why. At the end of the day the skills sets are similar. My job now, as it was then, is to deliver a message. Being able to understand and communicate that message, through multiple channels, is key.
There are also some differences. Planning and thinking ahead are far more important in PR. News, by definition, is new, and in many ways, just happens. In PR, I am learning to stay ahead, to anticipate and to plan. Another main difference is gaining the approval of clients. In PR, one must always remember the client has the final say. You can advise and lead them in the right direction, but nothing happens without his/her say.
I use my experience as a reporter when trying to secure coverage. I try to make pitches as appealing as possible for that particular reporter, while also being aware of timing, and what else may be going on at that time. And just like in news, relationships are important. If you can prove to be a helpful source for a reporter, they will come back to you for other stories. It’s those types of relationships that benefit both sides, and makes the whole system work.
To sum up, there are so many similar skills and techniques between the two disciplines it’s no surprise we’ve seen the reporter to PR pro transition so frequently, and it’s my belief that trend will continue.
-Matt Blanchette, Team Providence