Journalists and Public Relations Professionals: Working Together for the Good of the Story

Posted by on April 12th, 2013

If someone would have asked me five years ago what I’d be doing with my life at this point in my career, I never would have imagined that I’d be working in public relations. In fact, for most of my (young) professional life, I’ve actually been on the other side of the spectrum: in journalism as a reporter. Over the past couple of years, I’ve reported on pretty much every topic that there is to cover for a variety of interesting outlets, both national and international—from online news start-ups and sports to travel blogs and investigative stories. I even wrote obituaries for my first beat during college.

After getting my master’s degree in journalism, though, I decided to cross over into public relations territory, where I could still be connected to journalists but help to further their work and mission in a different, but still meaningful, way. Although I initially felt nervous that I wouldn’t belong in this new and challenging environment, I quickly realized that many, if not all, of the skills that I had learned as a reporter allowed me to understand PR on a much deeper level than I had originally anticipated.

Understanding the importance of deadlines, paying acute attention to detail, writing in a clear and concise manner and developing story ideas and angles that are both newsworthy and timely are all key journalistic ideals that effective public relations professionals strive to achieve and abide by, as well. In order to be successful in their respective fields, journalists and account executives, for example, also need to master the art of time management, prioritization, multitasking and editing. Both need to recognize the importance of working as part of a team, as well as acting alone.

Perhaps most importantly, though, those in PR and journalism are ultimately working toward the same end result—telling a compelling story that people will enjoy, learn from and remember. Consequently, public relations professionals and journalists should work together as much as possible to develop lasting relationships that will prove to be beneficial for both parties. When working with a reporter on a story, I always try to be as helpful and approachable as possible, and if there’s something that I don’t know the answer to, I do whatever I can to find out. And now with the proliferation of social media, journalists and public relations professionals have the unique ability to reach audiences on a much larger scale across a multitude of platforms.

News, from both a journalistic and public relations standpoint, is, at its most basic level, all about people and the stories that they have to tell. Collaboration and communication between the two industries will not only provide more opportunities for people to tell their stories, but it will also enable those stories to obtain the kind of value, recognition and power that they deserve.