Both sides now: Making the leap from journalism to PR

23 Sep 2016

Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now has always been a go-to song when looking back at life decisions and experiences. The all-time classic now has added meaning since my move from journalism to public relations left me on ‘both sides’ of the communications fence.

You might be familiar with the common perception that PR is the ‘dark side’ when compared to journalism. When I announced I was to leave my position as a food reporter my colleagues asked if I’ll be doing all the ‘dirty work’ like endless pitching. To them, the shift from journalism to PR would be daunting, with a job scope seen to be much more extensive and laden with uncertainty. But are these perceived downsides legit?

Changing career is not always an easy move. It took me some time to grasp the extent of the ‘backstage’ work needed to deliver an effective pitch or organise a successful event as a PR. Prep work is essential, from strategy development to day-to-day liaison with different parties.

But the valuable experience obtained from my journalism days has given me an edge over people who might be transitioning into PR from other careers. Without doubt, the basic skills – writing, communicating and understanding people – are essentially the same in journalism and PR, making me a better PR pro. Drafting press materials for restaurants reminds me of writing feature articles, and talking to chefs to understand their passion for food has provided some of the finest moments I could hope for when doing PR for a restaurant opening!

On top of that, my understanding of what journalists need plays a big part in delivering client messages across. My current position has provided me with a valuable opportunity to get in touch with former peers from F&B journalism again – and it’s always easier to do the pitching when you personally know the journalist and know how their publications work. The pre-existing bond between us can furthermore be strengthened with the passing of time.

Working in PR has also broadened my horizons. As a journalist I could only focus on writing a good article. In PR, I am able to play an integral role in helping a business flourish, through coming up with compelling campaigns and concepts. So looking back at the moment when I decided to step into the PR world, it was a definite ‘yes’, with no regrets.

The valuable experience obtained from my journalism days has given me an edge over people who might be transitioning into PR from other careers

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