I was taking a big risk in the summer of 2015 when I decided to expand my options after struggling to land an entry-level position in journalism.
After all, the only thing I wanted to be was a journalist.
I spent two years as an editor on the paper at The College of New Jersey; interned at South Jersey Magazine and wrote for The Times of Trenton. But getting an entry-level job in journalism, even in those days, wasn’t easy. (It hasn’t gotten any easier, by the way.)
I didn’t have full grasp as to what public relations was, but I knew that the profession involved writing. I saw that Devine + Partners was recruiting interns for the fall, I perused its website to learn about the firm, and I applied.
And thank goodness I did! Throughout the internship I got to meet former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and witness him rappel down One Logan Square, tour the breathtaking Benjamin Franklin Parkway and hand out brochures for the World Meeting of Families in 2015, pose with the Philly Phanatic…you name it.
More important, my internship at D+P propelled me into a (thus far) fulfilling, rewarding career in PR. After exploring in-house PR and communications for some time, I returned to D+P in 2020 as a senior account executive. And through my nearly 8-year journey in public relations, I’ve realized one important thing:
There’s journalism in public relations.
Now, you may be thinking, “Duh. You communicate with reporters almost on a daily basis as a PR professional.” What I mean, though, is that in many ways, you wear a reporter’s hat as a PR pro.
The first time I realized this was during my first press release assignment as a D+P intern. Over the years, the format of press release writing has changed a bit, but what remains true is that you start the release with the most important piece of information – just as you would when writing a news article. The same can be said for media advisories, as I explained in a previous blog. When drafting story ideas and pitches, I find myself always thinking, “How would a journalist cover this?”
Today, PR pros are stepping into a journalist’s shoes more than ever before. Not only are we writing press materials – we are storytellers. We are producing content, just as journalists would, in the form of blog articles for our clients’ website, videos for their sites and social media, photos … you name it. We are sending our footage to news stations and taking the video in a way that would appear in news segments.
As I sit here and reflect during D+P’s 20th anniversary, I can’t help but think how it’s a blessing that the PR profession has evolved the way it has, because in many ways it has strengthened our relationships with journalists. Media relations has remained the one constant, but perhaps we are better at it than ever before. Why? Because we are putting on our journalist thinking caps more often when strategizing and developing content and thus, offering better, more targeted pitches.
So, my fellow PR pros, yes – the press releases continue to pile, and the days continue to fill with meetings and events. But through it all, remember to think like a journalist in your day-do-day work. I promise that doing so will yield great results.
What do you think? Connect with me at email@example.com.