Don’t miss part 1 in this series, Journalism to PR: Transferable skills (part 1 of 3).
In my first blog post on this topic, we talked about transferable skills that would allow journalists to transition into the public relations universe. They included reporting ability, storytelling, multi-tasking, ability to work with deadline pressure and an understanding of the media landscape.
But it takes more than those. One of the biggest challenges journalists face in their transition to PR is that many have not been exposed to the business side. It takes more than reporting, writing and editing to help clients and companies succeed.
Here are five useful skills for journalists trying to transition:
New business development: Journalists do not see themselves as salespeople. You are not used to convincing your audience every day that they should pay for what you do. That’s the job of sales and circulation, right? You write and assume people read your work. You sometimes see immediate results online and in social media. To succeed at agencies and even in the corporate world, you must think about client service, new business opportunities, community and corporate partnerships and collaborative efforts, to name just a few. Those can all help your company succeed.
ROI: Most journalists (those jettisoned and those still carrying the torch) now understand that their business is all about, well, business. You know, generating revenue, meeting budget, profit, etc. If you don’t know what ROI stands for, you need to find out, because that’s what the world is all about, including yours. Return on investment means everything. Know it. Love it. Live it.
Strategic thinking: When you have to produce so many stories because you have a newspaper, website or airtime to fill, it’s sometimes about the quantity vs. the quality. I would contend that every media outlet has editors, producers and reporters who think strategically about their audience, their stories, their delivery and their time management. When you get into PR, you have to help your organization or clients put thought behind every strategy and tactic. You can be the one in the room who challenges because, well, journalists are trained to challenge. Just do it gently.
Audience development: The new era of journalism requires journalists to build their own brands and audiences to be successful. Niche publications and products have helped journalists (and bloggers) target specific audiences: young professionals, moms, geographic communities. You can play an important role in helping a brand or organization target its audience. You will have to learn how to use data and analytics, but many journalists are doing that already.
Reputation management: Responsible journalists ask themselves this question when evaluating a story: Is it fair, balanced and accurate? When you are in PR, you are sometimes in the business of protecting, preserving or enhancing a brand, person or organization’s reputation. That requires a different mind-set – pulling back and seeing a larger picture. You have to accept and embrace that. Journalists, especially beat reporters, often focus on the context and impact of a story today. PR professionals understand that, for good or bad, there are sometimes important business initiatives down the road that are totally unknown by the journalist that can be affected by a story.
Perry spent 25 years at Gannett as a reporter, editor and managing editor, has launched new products (print and online), been a magazine editor and written, edited and published books.