In the past there was always a definite divide between PR and journalism, but over the years as the decline in newspaper sales and jobs has continued there are even more journalists moving into PR, marketing and digital roles.
In the past PR was seen as a fluffy role performed by those who wouldn’t be able to cut-it on Fleet Street. Even from a regional paper’s perspective, press releases sent from PR companies ended up being spiked simply because, frustratingly, they didn’t even contain the basics – who, what, why, when and where? And for a journalist in a busy newsroom with tight deadlines, what those lovely people in PR didn’t seem to understand was there simply wasn’t time to pick up the phone to fill in the holes you could drive a bus through to turn their nicely crafted press release into a news story.
Having worked in both, the only real difference between PR and journalism is that one acts for a client and the other acts for an editor, but the end result is the same, and that is they both want a good story that will get maximum coverage. As a former regional and national journalist who has made the transition into PR I’ve found that is allows you to be far more creative and multi-directional compared to working in the media. All clients still want coverage, especially in national and regional newspapers and the Holy Grail of television, even though there are a mass of blogs and online sites which are far easier to get coverage in simply because of the sheer number of them which means they are not as selective of the content or topic. Whereas traditional mainstream press still demands a strong story and a good topical hook to attach it to.
But as newspaper journalist roles diminish there is an ever increasing demand for journalism skills in the PR and digital market. Content marketing is important and creating high-quality online content intended to build trust and community among your brand’s target audience still requires great researchers and writers. Content marketing and social media is used by every company and business from your local sandwich shop with its own Facebook Page to massive corporations that have long since combined traditional PR and digital to spread the word through pictures on Instagram and sound bites on Twitter. So the future roles of PR and journalism as we know them have not only changed, but have evolved into what has become digital PR. What remains the same though are the skills, good old fashioned writing of original, interesting, entertaining and informative content to engage your reader, be that online or offline.