When journalists make great PR pros

Transitioning from journalism to public relations (PR as we call it in the biz) can be a natural and rewarding career shift. 

It’s not for everyone, but for me, it was the right move at the right time — I was ready to make the switch when I joined a PR agency in 2014.  

Apparently, according to Malcolm Gladwell, the key to achieving expertise in any given skill is 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. My five years spent as a journalist gave me the 10,000 hours of writing and finding stories which have been the building blocks for my decade (and counting!) in PR. 

Making the switch

The switch worked for me because I was hungry for a change and innately fascinated by brands and marketing. I “got it” from day one: the buzz from winning and keeping clients, the understanding why sometimes a story couldn’t be a story…even if it was a great story, and the benefits and joy of working within a team of people with experience across the marketing mix. 

Good journalists are naturally curious, strong writers, and deeply attuned to how the media operates. The same applies to PR, where the ability to craft and pitch compelling stories, conduct thorough research, and maintain accurate, engaging content is just as crucial as it is on the other side of the fence. 

Here are some traits I think are shared by both good journalists and PR professionals:

  • At least as Curious as George, if not more 
  • Always hungry for the next big hit 
  • Can perfectly craft everything from a snappy headline to a 1,000 word thought leadership 
  • TikTok isn’t your only news source – but you don’t dismiss its value either
  • You understand the BBC, Mailonline and HR Grapevine want entirely different things, and what those things are 
  • While you can take no for an answer; you’re always able to find an angle that the right editor will say yes to 
  • Willing to dive a little deeper into research than might be necessary 
  • Precision isn’t a goal, it’s a standard 
  • Not afraid to pick up the phone 
  • Able to build and maintain a Rolodex (or whatever the kids use these days) 
  • You’re adaptable, you don’t sit around worrying that AI will take your job, you focus that energy on trialling how it can make you better
  • Strategic thinking (and not just using the word “strategic” so much that it no longer means anything) 

There is a common misconception that moving to PR is a step down for journalists

In reality, it’s a sideways step that offers new challenges and opportunities which perfectly utilises existing skills and experience.  Successful transitions happen when journalists are hungry to embrace the “dark side” (as my former editor called it)  and leverage storytelling expertise and media savvy in new ways. 

There are three former reporters currently within Story Shop, and they’ve excelled because they bring their own unique journalistic skills and contacts, along with an understanding of the bigger picture. They know how to create and maximise opportunities within our clients’ marketing strategies, helping to retain and attract new clients.

At Story Shop, we foster an environment that celebrates individuality and leverages each team member’s strengths. Over the last few years, I’ve read a lot of Dr Seuss to my now three-year-old son. I’ve held one quote in particular very close to me:

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” 

Dr Seuss

We believe that everyone has unique talents to contribute, and we provide opportunities for our team members to focus on what they do best. And we fully recognise and appreciate what great journalists do best. 

If you’re a journalist with around 10,000 hours of experience and a desire to transition into PR, we’d love to hear from you. Email dannii@wearestoryshop.com to start the conversation.

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