Monday, April 6, 2009

Journalists Might Make Good PR People - Or Not

A topic that has been swirling around in my head for a while finally has hit a point that needs to be shared. Earlier tonight on #journchat a question popped up that piqued my interest: Question #1 How can journs transition to PR? 

This question led to some good conversations on the topic. However, I want to address an assumption that has to be made in order for one to think a journalist can transition into public relations.

A journalist will most likely have the media relations chops to be successful since they understand what is and isn't newsworthy, know how to craft an effective pitch, can build and maintain relationships with media contacts, and are familiar with various aspects of the news cycle. That is great. And if that's the only role the public relations position required, they would be set.

PR is more than just trying and being able to get publicity. 
At least that has been true for the type of communications with which I've been involved. 

A good public relations person: 
  • can counsel on internal organizational decisions and strategy
  • has the trust and credibility to guide the use of appropriate communication channels
  • listens to an organization's community to help best determine needs, opportunities, and challenges
  • helps manage reputations, relationships, and change
Can a journalist (or former journalist) do these things and more? Absolutely. I know some great former media friends who are highly successful in the PR profession. I also know of some current journalists who would make excellent communicators for organizations. (And judging by the state of mainstream media these days it would be good if those that get it, start thinking about it.) 

I only want to clarify against what I believe to be a false assumption that a journalist can be a PR person just because they've equated PR to media skills. What do you think? The comments are yours.