After trying my hand on ‘the other side’ for a few months now, I have realised that while working as a journalist and television producer I never fully understood what being a public relations professional entailed.
For starters, respect to all publications people out there. This sure is no easy walk in the park.
To be effective and successful at this job you have to really think, plan and manage, while a lot of strategy also comes into play. Basically, one thing I knew when working in media has been confirmed - as a public relations professional you should never assume that all media houses out there will be interested in the content your client has to offer.
One sure-fire way of burning bridges or hampering good relationships with media is pitching to a wide range of institutions without engaging in a thorough selection process and identifying only relevant parties that you want to target with each message. This leads to great frustration on the media’s side and can, more often than not, result in them developing a ‘block’ against any content you send in future, relevant or not.
By going the extra mile of specifically selecting media for content, you will undoubtedly pave the way to mutually beneficial partnerships and streamline content distribution that actually delivers results.
One of my favourite days on the job thus far was when Government’s proposed sugar tax was recently trending and I had to manage an astronomical number of media interview requests for my client who is an expert on the topic of taxes.
Taking calls non-stop, briefing the client, managing time slots…it was an adrenaline rush to say the least. And to add to the rush, seeing my client on television, hearing him on radio and reading articles where journo’s quoted him made it all worth it.
Over the past few months I have also been diversifying my skills. I have learnt the art of negotiation, although in some cases a clear ‘no’ should be accepted, you have to develop the ability to recognise when an alternative proposal might be more successful.
One example would be to ask about other shows/sections to which a particular interview will be relevant, as opposed to merely backing down when a producer or editor rejects our initial interview pitch.
This lesson has left me feeling empowered.
Ignore the stigma
Since starting at At That Point I have managed to build quite a few strong relationships with media contacts who trust me to provide them with high quality content.
Thus, despite the stigma that journalists who go into public relations are ‘selling out’, this is by no means a place where journalism goes to die.
What we do bares significant resemblance to journalism. We are not playing ‘Spin Doctor’, rather we are helping tell factually correct, relevant and important stories that are valuable to audiences. And this is something I am extremely proud of.
Long may my public relations career be!
After years practicing in media I have decided made the move to what my colleagues and I used to call “the other side”. This term derives from the relationship between the media and public relations agencies which can be somewhat love-hate at times. In my view this can be attributed to both sides having objectives and goals that are the same to some extent, but very different in approach. The fact of the matter is that neither industry can achieve its objectives without the other.
The key to optimising the relationship between the newsroom and public relations professionals is finding synergy. It also helps immensely if both parties can truly appreciate and understand the other so that they can work together in an efficient and mutually beneficial manner.
I wanted to move to this industry because I felt that I have something valuable to offer in terms of my skills gained in print and broadcast media. Through the years I have come to know what it is that the media want...which stories get published and which don’t. Surely, I can use this to my advantage when working in public relations and establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the two parties concerned here.
Other than that, I have also been drawn to public relations for the organising and management aspect of it. I like to make things happen and I love it when I succeed. Finding suitable media outlets for clients that speak to the right audience seems like something that could be challenging, but highly enjoyable at the same time, especially when you get a hang of it.
I have further come to realise that the marketing/media/communication sphere has become one that is very much focused on personal angles and stories, consumers and/or readers do not want statistics or technical jargon that bores them, they want to find out about the people behind that information, because that is what they relate to...the ground-level impact. My aim therefore is to take advantage of this trend to maximise exposure for my clients.
In addition, public relations has the pressure of conforming to the global trend of moving towards a visual style of communication, particularly in terms of using video. This is the result of consumers’ increasingly high-paced lifestyles that have created a culture of seeking satisfaction as quick as possible, in other words, it’s important to get to the point as in NOW, otherwise you lose your audience. Instead of reading a five-paragraph article, people would rather watch a 20 second video communicating the exact same information, but in a quicker way. I have learnt to master this during my time as a television producer and plan to apply it in my new position as content manager at At That Point to achieve the best results possible.
Communication and getting the right information out there is something I value highly. With this career shift I hope to learn precisely how to create the above-mentioned sustainable synergies between my clients and the media by getting out of my comfort zone and learning everything I can about my clients’ various industries and then targeting appropriate media.