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Journalism and PR – not as far apart as it seems

New account manager, Martyn Leek, describes his first couple of months at PRG.

Tony Blair was voted in as Prime Minister the day I started at my first newspaper in journalism and earlier this year I celebrated 19 years in the honourable profession. I’m lucky enough to have worked on some great titles and with some great journalists. I also have loads of friends who have all, at some point, jumped ship to the wonderful world of PR.

I had resisted that urge for a long time. But after moving over to the B2B sector eight years ago the lure to move over into PR became too strong. A couple of months ago I joined PRG Marketing Communications – a full service agency based where I live (and love living by the way) in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

While I might be only a couple of months in, I thought I’d share my thoughts on PR  and why the two disciplines, which have been bedfellows for more than century, have more similarities than you might think. Here are my top 5 reasons.

Agility: PR is as mobile as journalism. A good PR should be able react quickly, and not just in the case of crisis management. This is especially true if the PR is tasked with caring for social media on behalf of a client. But PR is also agile in other areas. At PRG for example we have a host of differing clients, from different sectors and all with separate needs. The challenges each represent need some agile thinking and solutions – from print, digital to F2F.

Basics: Any journalist is taught the basics of: who, what, where, why, when and how. They are the fundamentals of a good story. The same is true of PR and marketing. Really without these fundamentals all you have is fluff.

Care: As a cynical hack it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that PR folk don’t care. That they represent brands they do not believe in. I’m happy to report this is not the case. In fact there is a case of them caring more – because ultimately the client is the boss, the paymaster. It’s in the PR’s interest to offer the best advice possible to the client.

Digital:  There is no doubt that in the UK journalism was slow to react to the digital revolution. The internet has slashed the number of print titles and in my last days as an editor I would not hire a person without relevant social media or video editing skills. Here at PRG I am surrounded with SEO, PPC and Google AdWords experts. There is a constant sharing of best practice and great ideas.

Engagement: As a journalist you have to be engaged on the story you’re working on. You can’t help it when you are on newspapers and the content is genuinely in the realm of human interest.  In PR, however, this is completely ramped up. You take on the client – you find yourself spotting things in the street that would be of interest to the client; a fact or marketing opportunity. If this sounds like PR or spin, trust an ex-hack when he says it’s not.  Rather a re-evaluation of things having jumped over to the PR world.


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