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!