Aisling McCarthy takes a look at the skills that overlap between journalism and public relations.
Working in PR isn’t for the faint-hearted, but there are certain skills that can make it that much simpler. While people skills and multitasking are prerequisites for the job, there are a few skills that PR professionals can borrow from journalists to improve their work.Here are three things PR professionals can learn from journalists:
1. Focus on facts, not frills
At the end of the day, PR professionals spend a lot of time trying to convince the media that their press release is worth publishing. However, press releases and press pitches are notorious in newsrooms for superlatives and vague descriptions.
Journalists, on the other hand, spend half their lives editing out flowery language and non-news. Take a page out of their book; cut out the unnecessary words and only deliver the facts.
Not only will it improve your writing, but you can be sure it will appease the journalists you reach out to. When they don’t have to spend valuable time rewriting your press releases and searching for the news in your stories, they’ll be more willing to publish your content.
Embellishing your content with beautiful adjectives and poetic musings to flesh out a story might make you think you’ll get published, but journalists are trained to write clear content based on facts. By doing the same, you’ll see your press releases shared more often.
Remember that press releases are only likely to be published when they have something to say
. Find the news angle of your press release and focus on it!
2. Know where the news is
After years of practising pitching story ideas to editors, journalists have learned to understand where the news is. And what kind of news will get a brief mention as opposed to what will make headlines.
PR professionals can borrow this skill and work out how their client’s public relations message fits in to a bigger trend story – without making it sound forced
. Journalists learn to hone this skill by sitting in on hundreds of editorial meetings weighing in on what is news, and what isn’t.
It’s that eye for genuine news that makes for a successful journalist, and it can make you a success in PR, too.
Keep in mind that what constitutes news can differ from one publication to the next, based on its area of focus. Spending some time researching what areas certain publications focus on will allow you to pitch a press release that fits into the publication’s style. It might even spark a new, genuine news story for the publication.
3. Think critically about client relationships
Client relationships are vital in PR, but critical thinking is too! While your clients are paying you, remember that doing exactly what they want – even if you disagree – is actually doing them a great disservice.
On a daily basis, journalists have to root through press releases and let PRs know whether or not their content will work. They are wired to know that they can only publish the right kind of content.
Take the same attitude when working with your clients. Speak to your clients with authority about the content, facts and focus of the press release. Let them know what will get them noticed by news organisations.
Although a hyped up press release about non-news might please the client, it won’t get any traction in the press – which helps no one.
Looking for more tips to get the most out of your career in PR? Check out our 10 Do’s and don’ts of PR