This post isn’t directly related to one of my clients, but I felt moved to share advice that could benefit some journalists looking to switch to a career in public relations.
Here’s advice I gave to a lifestyle journalist looking to switch to a career in public relations.
A colleague sent me this email:
I think my company is about to lay me off as a staff member—you know I’m a lifestyle journalist. Do you think I could transition into public relations and be good at it?
My email response:
Many of my journalist friends have had to change careers. This even extends to a lot of my TV producer friends that worked for CNN, being laid off and finding it hard to find jobs in the industry.
The last few years, I have seen a major shift in the economy and how media companies do business. Newspaper and magazine sales have lagged, and media businesses had to trim away employees and find new ways to make money. Engaging readers and viewers is an ever-changing business. And because of the changing media trends, a lot of magazines and newspapers have staff that consists of mainly freelance journalists.
Recently, I was featured in an Ebony Magazine story and was surprised to learn that the reporter and editor for the beat (that’s journalist talk for story type), were both freelancers with impressive resumes. They didn’t hide the fact they were freelancers. When the editor called to ask additional interview questions and confirm me being featured in the story, she introduced herself as a freelance editor.
Fortunately for a journalist, choosing a new career in public relations is a good move that is easy to do if good strategies are implemented to get clients.
You have an edge when transitioning to public relations in several ways:
- Media Contacts. On the publicity side of things, since you have existing media contacts through colleagues, that’s a great start out of the gate. I’m not sure if most of your contacts are regional to your location or national, but PR clients expect you to have a great digital Rolodex to send press releases.
- You Know How a Reporter Picks Stories. You know what reporters look for in story pitches since you are used to being pitched stories consistently. So the media pitches you do for public relations clients will reflect this knowledge. An average publicist can’t relate to your experience. (I also fit into the “former reporter turned publicist” category.)
- You Can Create a Niche Business in Public Relations. You can build a niche handling lifestyle clients only, to leverage your experience as a lifestyle journalist and stand out in the public relations industry.
So yes, I think my colleague will be good at being a publicist! Hopefully, she’s doing well with the career change. I will keep you updated on her progress.