PR Niblets

Monday, August 20, 2018

What are the Similarities Between Journalism and PR?

Last July, after being a television news producer for over three years, I left the journalism industry to pursue a new career path in public relations.  Many former journalists (including our very own Henry Feintuch) have successfully made the switch to the new, yet related field of public relations.  I knew that I would face some challenges in the transition, but I also knew that there was a strong relationship between both professions and I was excited to translate the skills I’d developed as a producer to my new career as a PR professional.

There are probably more similarities than there are differences between journalism and public relations but here are, in my humble opinion, the top five similarities:

1.       No two days are the same
Much like in a newsroom, where your work is determined by the news of the day, no two days are alike as a PR professional.  What I find exciting about PR is the variety of work from day to day.  We represent many different clients, with many different needs and objectives that require different approaches and strategies.  Whether you’re a journalist or a PR professional, your days are busy and full and there’s always something new to tackle each day.
2.       Clear and concise writing reigns supreme
In both professions, efficient and timely communication is the key to success. Journalists and PR professionals keep their intended audience in mind when writing and try to relay information that’s both engaging and easy to understand.  Whether it’s writing a press release or a feature story, to grab the audience’s attention and keep them engaged, the writing and the message must be clear and concise.
3.       It’s all about the story
Both journalists and PR professionals are in constant communication with the public.  Yes, there is more strategy involved on the PR side of things, but ultimately, it’s all about telling your clients’ story.  I’ve had to put on my “journalist thinking cap” to interview some of our own clients to gain a new perspective or a new angle that could then be turned into a pitch, by-lined article or press release.  Journalists know there’s always a story waiting to come out if you’re willing to look for it.
4.       Trust and credibility are imperative
To be successful in both journalism and PR, it’s crucial to develop credible and meaningful relationships.  PR professionals need to build relationships with reporters in order to get coverage for their client and reporters must have credibility with the public in order for their story to gain an audience.  Both journalists and PR professionals build these relationships through relaying honest and credible information.
5.       Using your “news sense”
Journalists are constantly asking themselves, “will people care about my story and if not, how do I shape it so that they do?”  PR professionals, on the other hand, are asking themselves a very similar question when shaping press releases: “will a journalist buy this and if not, how do I make them interested?” At the end of the day, the goal is to use your “news sense” to determine how to best shape a story for your intended audience.

I’ve been an account executive for nine months now and I still learn something new every day.  When I look back on my short tenure in public relations, I’m thankful for my time as a news producer and the invaluable perspective it’s given me as I continue to grow and learn as a PR professional.  In my next post, I’ll cover the major differences between journalism and public relations.  Until then, thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Small Talk is Big for PR Pros

I remember how my professors at Syracuse University would bristle when they heard a student say the reason they selected PR for a career was because “I like people.” They were offended at the implication that PR is merely about shaking hands, smiling, slapping backs, etc., rather than a serious practice within the communications field.
That said, liking and taking interest in people is not a bad thing for the PR professional. After all, the cornerstone of what we do revolves around creating and maintaining relationships. While these are mostly professional interactions, the personal side of the equation should not be overlooked.
We’re all aware that just about any meeting we participate in will start or end with small talk. It could be a discussion of the weather, weekend plans or a shared interest. This banter is a natural warm up and cool down to the business at hand and makes the work day a little more pleasant. However, it can represent more—an opportunity to learn more about your clients and co-workers. Do they have kids or play a musical instrument? Are they health nuts, foodies or travelers? These casual chats can forge important connections that will likely serve you well over the course of your career.
For example, I have a colleague that is a hardcore biker. We worked with a client that was also a biking fanatic, and the two of them would have intense exchanges that would cover all manner of bike equipment and the ungodly numbers of miles they each biked the previous weekend and for the year-to-date. While I never felt as out of shape in my life as when I listened to these discussions, I could appreciate the friendly connection between the two of them. This client has moved on, but they remain friendly and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to find occasion to work together again.
Personally, I look forward to being one of the first on the line for the conference call to chat up the client before we all roll up our sleeves to pay the bills. However, small talk comes more naturally to some than others. Case in point: I have a friend in the business who used to drive to client meetings with his boss. On the way, he’d be asked about his family – where did he grow up, where did he live now, did he have any brothers or sisters, etc. This is nice, right? The problem was that over the course of 10 to 12 of these trips – he’d be asked THE SAME QUESTIONS EVERY TIME! It was clear his boss was going through the motions and didn’t really care to know anything about him. Not a great way to forge a connection. (While this disingenuousness would seem an unfavorable trait for a PR professional, it occurs to me that this person is one of the most successful PR people I know of. So what the hell do I know?)
Regardless, I’m going to stick with my premise that PR is a “people” business and that it is worthwhile to make the effort to get to know those with whom you associate. More often than not, you’ll find it will add enjoyment to the job and may even lead to your professional enrichment and advancement.