In the ever-evolving media and communication landscape, career trajectories often take unexpected turns. My journey from being a BBC TV journalist to finding my stride in the dynamic world of public relations is a testament to the power of embracing change, redefining roles, and adapting skills.
Before becoming a journalist, I dreamt of working as a ‘press officer’ for a charity. I had a clear vision that I would first work in journalism to understand how journalists worked and what they needed, so I could be the very best PR professional I could be.
Then I moved into journalism and forgot all about the PR vision.
Busting the PR myth
As a journalist at the BBC, I was entrenched in the high-octane world of reporting, storytelling, and conveying news to the masses. It was a world where facts, accuracy and objectivity were paramount. But an encounter with two different PR professionals during my journalism days reminded me of my initial vision.
Fluff, kittens and awards
In my journalistic days, I might have dismissed PR as mere fluff - a realm of spin, cover up and manipulation or perhaps cats, kittens and glamorous awards ceremonies. My perspective changed drastically thanks in part to two fantastic communication professionals I worked with regularly as a journalist - one a hospital comms manager, and the other the head of communications for a children’s charity.
Like a compelling news story, I saw that a well-crafted PR campaign can captivate audiences and drive conversations. They told good news stories with pizazz and creativity and understood my role as a journalist to uncover the truth. They treated me as a partner doing their job just like them and not as the enemy.
Navigating the move
I later spotted a job working for a national charity and quickly realised that my background as a journalist provided me with some invaluable transferrable skills. The ability to distil complex information into concise, engaging content became my secret weapon. The investigative skills I honed as a journalist and using social media (particularly what was then known as Twitter) to uncover stories allowed me to uncover unique angles and craft compelling stories that resonated with both media and audiences.
The transition was reminiscent of my foray into print journalism, which taught me to adapt to new formats, whether online, recording video or sharing on social media, whilst preserving the essence of the story. Similarly, in PR, I learned to tailor messages for different platforms, from traditional media outlets to digital spaces, ensuring consistent branding across diverse channels.
The strategy of PR
At the core of this journey was the realisation that PR is more than just press releases and media coverage. It's about strategy - a deliberate alignment of communication efforts with overarching business goals. This early epiphany led me to embrace a comprehensive approach integrating PR into the broader marketing ecosystem.
Alongside this, as a journalist, I understood the critical role social media plays in society. I uncovered a murder after seeing a Tweet on Twitter and sourced numerous other stories on the platform. I discovered social media was just as important when I moved into PR. In recent years, I have seen the role of LinkedIn in the PR practitioner's toolkit having ever more significant influence. In fact, I have helped create and launch our white glove executive profiling service on LinkedIn, where we help manage business leaders’ LinkedIn accounts. This service came about after I realised senior business leaders' critical role and influence in raising a business’s profile.
Find your own fit
In hindsight, my journey from BBC TV journalist to PR professional has been transformative. It's a journey that's defined by embracing change, challenging preconceived notions, and embracing the power of effective communication.
When executed strategically, PR becomes an indispensable asset that amplifies a company's message, enhances its reputation, and drives tangible results.
So, whether you're a seasoned journalist or an aspiring PR enthusiast, remember that each twist in your career path can lead to unexpected and fulfilling opportunities.
Written by Rachel Emmett, senior account manager at agency EC-PR
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