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ASK US WEDNESDAY: “Can any journo be a PR?”

by Leo Wiles
21 November 2018

Hi Rach and Leo. I notice you often have jobs up for PRs or journos who’ve worked in PR. I’d like to broaden my options as a journo and be able to apply for those jobs. What do I need skills wise and what do I need to know in order to cross the field, so to speak, even if it’s just occasionally as a freelance PR? Can any  journo be a PR? L

Nothing is impossible – and given the symbiotic skillset that journos and public relations experts share, it’s as easy as gliding between in-house and freelance roles.

Sure, there may be a few hiccups, but on the whole both roles need flexible thinkers who can spot a unique angle and pitch it to the right person.  Of course, your interest in current affairs, ability to multitask and overflowing contacts book of editors and fellow journos will be a massive advantage too.

However, if the idea of leaving your garret, mentioning your product six times in a post, hitting the phones for 8 hours straight or pitching to old colleagues makes your stomach churn, then realistically it’s not the job for you.

Because being a PR takes savvy and thinking outside-the-box – coupled with a never say die attitude.  With Business PR Marketing and Comms and Media qualifications behind me (and the HECS debt to prove it), I can tell you now that PR agencies, like advertising and digital agencies, are full of dynamic influencers and not washed-up hacks.

Everyone needs to earn their place on the account. That means bringing something to the table to make their client’s product or service relevant to existing and future stakeholders – in ways that may never have been thought of before. Like changing world views in the way that Steve Jobs made technology sexy, or De Beers turned a semi-precious stone into the most coveted engagement stone in the world (amassing a fortune in the process).

If all this talk of money makes you uneasy, then again PR is not for you. The whole job hinges on being a people person who understands what makes customers tick and what will motivate them to share, buy, hire the product, or engage service that you are currently working on to reach your clients’ ultimate goals. It’s all about knowing how to make an angle sticky, whether it’s for an editor and their readers – or an agency head and their client’s consumers.

Are you a journo moonlighting as a PR? What are your thoughts on crossing the divide?

Leo Wiles

Leo Wiles has worked as an editor, journalist and PR for over 20 years before recently retraining as a photographer. These days, she spends her time behind a lens, juggling her own clients with her work at Rachel's List, and her three gorgeous but lively kids.

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