I'm not the first or last budding reporter to turn to the dark side-public relations-but I think the value this transition has given me is underrated to undergraduates who find themselves teetering between the two fields. To be sure, I'm not discounting the importance of journalists-PR professionals, and the world, depend on them. I simply think students who want to go into the marketing communications world, or are stuck between this world and the world of news writing, are better off in the long run if they learn the journalism discipline first. Becoming comfortable thinking like a journalist will help students rock any future PR internships, along with these tips.The two fields are so similar, but there are some critical skills learned in J school you just don't get in the more general communication courses.
1. You know what makes a good storyYou spend four years pitching story ideas to your professors and school paper's editors, so you know what's newsworthy and what's not. Having this insight as a PR professional is huge, because you reduce the learning curve of trying to figure out what exactly reporters are looking for in a pitch. Better yet, you learn how to enterprise your own ideas when news is slow. My favorite trick: checking the archives of the school paper to find out what happened in history on this day 10, 50, 100 years ago.
2. AP Style becomes second natureIt's not exactly an option not to have this down by heart when you're churning out three articles a week. You'll find yourself crossing out oxford commas on your little sister's homework without even thinking about it.
3. Working with multimedia isn't so scaryMuch to some students' dismay, professors constantly hammer in your head that you need to be your own writer, photographer, videographer and editor. You become extremely comfortable with multimedia tools and software, which is a huge asset in the evolving world of PR. The 2015 Holmes Report found that 42% of American PR firms counted multimedia content creation as the most important skill for PR executives going forward.
4. Listening is keyMany communications students love to talk, but not all know how to listen. Through countless interviews, you quickly learn listening is key to writing a good story. If you're just waiting to ask your next question, you're not hearing the brilliant nugget your subject just said. PR requires excellent listening skills to best understand your clients and keep an accurate pulse on the industry.
5. Connections, connection, connectionsYou interview so many different types of people, especially working for a school paper at a big university like Ohio State, that you can call on for advice or help in future communications careers.
6. Nuances of the businessYou understand the workflow of a journalist-when the best time is to call a reporter, if it's truly reasonable to talk off the record and what type of relationship the reporter will feel comfortable having with you.Did you begin your PR career as a journalist? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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