30.09.2016 From journalism to PR: A year after ‘joining the dark side’

In journalism there’s a well-known saying that moving to a career in PR is like ‘joining the dark side’.

As a Star Wars fan I appreciated the metaphor even if as a journalist I didn’t entirely share the sentiment.

shutterstock_238519219A typical PR professional

In my 13-year career as a reporter in the regional and national press I came into contact with many PR and comms professionals, both in-house and agency, and realised we shared many of the same skills and idiosyncrasies.

In the latter half of my journalism career I also realised that the regular rounds of redundancies and unstoppable circulation decline in the newspaper industry made a career in PR a steadily more attractive prospect.

And so when the inevitable happened this time last year and I was made redundant it was PR that came to my rescue, rather than journalism.

Here I am a year on, head of content at Brighter Comms, having brought my journalism skills and newsroom knowledge to bear in the world of PR while having learned more about the industry in 12 months than I did in 12 years.

Here’s what I have discovered so far:


We’re not that different

shutterstock_131284517A typical journalist

When people ask me how different it is working in PR compared to journalism I now have a stock response: “It’s like two sides of the same coin.”

After all, PRs and journalists share many attributes, including curiosity, critical thinking, tenacity and an interest in the news, as well as the obvious writing and interviewing skills.

We also share many of the same professional pressures and frustrations, such as multiple deadlines, demanding workloads, needing knowledge of different sectors, working irregular hours and dealing with difficult people.

But PRs, especially those working for agencies, have the added pressure of having to consider the business and financial impacts of their work, whereas for journalists that’s usually someone else’s problem.


We need each other more than ever

The fact is there’s simply no place for the journalism/PR rivalry and mistrust any more.

With fewer journalists struggling to create more content to fill more space for a more diverse and diffuse audience, journalists need the help of PRs more than ever.

On the other side of the coin, PRs need to get exposure for their clients across a range of different publications and platforms.

The smart ones realise this is the case and foster mutually productive relationships.


I’m happy here

Whatever misgivings or reservations I might have had about ‘switching sides’ disappeared completely within a couple of weeks of starting. I’ve found PR to be an innovative, creative, exciting and rewarding sector in which to work, and I’m looking forward to a Brighter future on the ‘dark side’.