Why a Journalism degree can be the perfect launchpad for a career in PR
I’ve crossed over to the dark side.
It happened a couple of weeks back when I bagged myself a job as a Graduate Account Executive here at Brazen.
The first warning came at the interview stage for my course in MA Journalism when they talked about what past grads had gone on to do.
The interviewer cleared his throat and explained that a large percentage had betrayed their love of current affairs for the prospect of better salaries and more sociable office hours, AKA a PR job.
These grads, it was claimed, were unwilling to battle the storm of newspaper closures rivaled with the booming blogging world. And, admittedly, back then I would have probably thought to myself no way would that ever be me.
But, that’s because I didn’t understand PR.
To me, it was just students handing out leaflets or sending out Facebook invites to watch some guest DJ down in Wigan, and the fancy few who went off to Ibiza for the summer.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that I first seriously contemplated PR when on a work placement at a tabloid newspaper.
And when I had learned enough to finally grasp a proper understanding of what PR actually was, my mind was made up. It meant that I could maintain my love of writing, but potentially work on ideas to develop and make the news, not just type it.
PR gives you the chance to be more creative, whether it’s brainstorming fun ideas for publicity stunts, or writing for different clients and their varied tones of voice.
And despite the claims, you aren’t selling away your love of current affairs: knowing the news is absolutely crucial for any PR professional.
If you’re a journalism student currently grafting away at getting your 100 words per minute shorthand, or preparing for other dreaded NCTJs, you might wonder why still do a Journalism degree? But, I’d say, stick at it.
Your super-honed writing ability will come in seriously handy: you’ve had the advantage of being taught by journalists themselves how to write news stories, meaning that you have an invaluable insight into exactly what journalists want.
You also have a ready-to-go portfolio for interviews (something I found really handy myself), demonstrating those all-important writing skills.
What’s more, it turns out that those tedious hours of learning media law might turn out be more than useful, as you have a good understanding of what you can and can’t put in press releases.
I still have plenty to learn, of course. I’ve not mastered selling-in, but I feel like having an idea of who is sat on the other end of the line makes it a lot less daunting to just pick up the phone.
Your time spent on placements at newspapers and TV organisations means that you’ve already had an insider’s view of how a newsroom operates, and you’ve had it drummed into you about the importance of building relationships with journalists and contacts.
Journalism also teaches you a sense of perseverance. You will have already experienced stories that have fallen through or not made the cut, but you’ll know to pick yourself up and try again.
I’m only a few weeks into my PR career and still adjusting to the differences between journalism and PR—but my journalism experience has ensured I’m not scared to ask plenty of questions.
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