By day, I work at a successful strategic communications agency. At night, once a week, I teach journalism to college students.
By day, I may help clients with how to carefully, and sometimes generically, respond to the media. At night, I teach students how to not settle for questions answered carefully and generically.
The truth is, though, journalism and public relations intersect quite a bit.
Today I plan to focus on some commonalities that can make you successful in either world:
Reputation: Here’s the deal – if you are a rude reporter, or an editor or producer who never returns calls or emails, and then you want to go into PR with the very people you blew off or treated rudely, you’re in for a tough time. If you are known for being careless with facts, lazy in your work ethic and always taking the easy way to a lesser outcome, you’re in for a tough time. If you are a bully as a journalist or PR person, you’re in for a tough time. Conversely, it doesn’t cost anything to treat people well and develop a strong reputation as a decent person. This will always serve you well.
Respect: There is no need for having an antagonistic relationship with a journalist or a PR person. Everyone has a job to do. Everyone is trying to do it well. Everyone is trying to excel at his or her chosen professional path so he or she may live well and prosper. Nothing wrong with that. You can respectfully ask a tough question – just as someone can respectfully choose not to answer the question you’ve asked.
Make each other’s job easy: Journalism and PR are both changing. There are different roles being played, different challenges, different tools and tactics. Take the time to learn how to help each other. How can journalists best work with PR folks to get what they need? How can PR folks best work with journalists to get what they need? There are ways to help each other in a time when everyone is asked to do more with less and play roles for which they are not trained.
Win-win: There really is such a thing as an outcome that is mutually beneficial. It’s not always possible, but in the public relations world, it’s worth searching for. This goes to the heart of reputation and respect (Nos. 1 and 2 on this list).
Passion: Succeeding in these professions requires a certain degree of passion, something that can’t necessarily be taught. When involved in an interview process in my new life (PR) or my previous life (journalism), this was the one character trait I looked for. Passion will make you successful because you won’t stop learning/working/improving until you succeed. You will adapt to change and new ways of conducting business. And you will enjoy the process.
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.