Hello there, talented journalist!
I’m often approached by print and broadcast reporters and editors like you for tips on transitioning into a career in public relations. After years—even decades—of researching, reporting, investigating and doing your best to file balanced, accurate and timely stories, you’re contemplating making the move to the dark side.
Congrats! You’re really going to love it over here. That is, unless you take a job you have enough years, but not the experience for; assume you are still going to see your name in the paper; or negotiate a salary that does not take into account the overtime you’re about to give up. Yikes!
Never fear, I’m happy to help. Here are the pitfalls and pick-me-ups you’ll need to remember in order to rock out your new career:
Your decade of newsroom experience does not equal a decade of communications management experience.
Public relations isn’t rocket science, but it is a learned skill set. Just like “talking to reporters” everyday doesn’t make me a great journalist, “talking to PR people” doesn’t translate into mastery of project management, strategy and proposal memos, event planning, running a client’s budget, dealing with corporate bureaucracy and crafting and implementing a media relations campaign.
If you walk into a room of experienced PR folks and declare that although you’ve never done their job, you’re awesome at it, they will turn on you so fast it will make your head spin. And you need those flacks because you’ve never done this before…
Accept that you don’t know what you don’t know—then, seek out an employer who understands that.
Take a job at a public relations or public affairs firm that understands that although you come with a highly-valuable skill set, you must be trained in—and given time to learn—the actual craft of public relations.
I strongly encourage you to NOT make your first communications gig a “Communications Director” for a company, or any place that expects you to be a one-woman show. Read More…