We’ve always made a big deal of the fact our professional team is made up of experienced and qualified journalists. With the three founding directors coming from a media background it’s understandable that we’re passionate about the role of good journalism in PR. But does it really matter?
It’s certainly true that journalists moving into PR have a greater understanding of how the media works. They know instinctively what’s news and what isn’t, they understand about deadlines and how newsrooms operate, they have good research skills, know how to find the information they need, can usually write well, are used to briefing photographers (or even taking photos themselves) and they tend to have good contacts in the media.
But it’s also true that not every journalist can turn his or her hand to PR. They can be set in their ways, entrenched in ‘house rules’ and unable to muster the creativity a good PR campaign requires. The organisational skills demanded of them on the client management front may seem alien after the chaotic environment of a newsroom; so too the diplomacy skills that the PR role undoubtedly requires.
The ultimate truth is that SOME journalists make very good PR people. They’re the ones who manage to combine their strong interview techniques, good writing and ‘nose for news’ with business acumen, creativity and good people skills. They’re able to develop new skills including event management, crisis handling and building strong client relationships. And they’re exactly the ones we look to employ.