Should journalists really become PRs?

Having dipped my toe into the world of PR seven years ago,  I have since read countless interviews, blog posts and articles by journalists who are well and truly fed up with PRs who insist on sending them press releases, telling them how fantastic their clients are.

Some of these comments have been very constructive and helpful, some downright rude – the latter being understandable yet not useful in forging PR:journo relationships with the aim of coming up with some fantastic media content.

Since working with editor and journalist Janet Murray, I’m learning (and hope that I’ll always continue to learn) how to think like a journalist, not a PR.  To think about how to adapt a client’s news so that it fits with the kind of stories a particular newspaper, magazine, programme or online site is looking for.  To create a pitch that is relevant, timely, eye catching and precise.

I’m delighted to tell you first hand, that this approach really does work and I’ve been delighted to regularly secure editorial for my clients in titles such as FT, Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

I believe that the divide between journalists and PRs is narrowing at a rapid pace and has been doing so for some time.  We both need each other to fulfil our own objectives – the PR to get press exposure for the client, the journo to file some fantastic copy which will be enjoyed by readers and generate comments.  Unfortunately, most media titles are being forced to streamline their own in-house staff, leaving many journalists unemployed.

For many journos, there are two options – either turn freelance, or become a PR themselves.  It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?  So I was surprised the other day when another PR commented that: “Journalists know nothing about PR”, a comment which was supported by someone else in the industry.

Although I now look at pitching individual pieces wearing my journalist’s hat, I don’t kid myself for one moment that I could swap careers and actually become a journalist.  So do you agree with what that PR said?  I’d be interested to hear the argument from both a journo and a PR perspective.

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