Making the move from journalism to PR? Here’s how I found it
Consumer’s Account Director Katie Storey shares her experience of making the jump from entertainment journalism to PR, from the challenges she faced to the perks she’s now enjoying…
Like any job, starting something new can often be daunting and nerve-racking, let alone when you’re moving into an industry that you pretty much have no experience in. I’d been working as a journalist for around seven years across entertainment and lifestyle, for a number of big titles like MailOnline, Daily Mail Australia, Metro, OK! Magazine and MTV to name a few. Prior to moving into PR, I was freelancing for two years over the pandemic, five days a week, from home.
I loved my job and I loved (almost) everything about being a journalist. I was celeb-obsessed, a huge fan of reality TV and no day was ever the same when you’re searching social media for the weird and wacky tales of a person’s DIY beauty hack gone wrong. However, I’d started to get tired of a repetitive news cycle, churning out story after story on the same topics, the same people, and not really being able to input too much of my own creativity into the pieces I had to produce day in day out.
It’s fair to say I had itchy feet and I was in need of a new challenge to get me feeling inspired again. Freelancing had its perks, but I’d grown tired of constantly searching for the next gig and I felt like I wasn’t progressing in terms of my career. I’d always thought about a move into PR, but it was always something I’d tell myself I’d explore later on down the line - turns out that was a little sooner than I originally thought.
I had itchy feet and I was in need of a new challenge
Feeling like I was ready to take the plunge, I plucked up the courage to leave the newsroom (and with it my security blanket) and finally make that jump. I had no previous experience in PR, only interactions I’d had with PRs and agencies as a journalist. At first, I was torn about heading over to the other side of the fence. I was worried I would miss writing and everything that came with being an entertainment journo. I wasn’t sure how’d I feel pitching to ex-colleagues and friends, being that person chasing for coverage and whether I’d find myself pining for the fast-paced, ever changing environment of editorial.
However, there were other aspects I wouldn’t miss, the unsociable hours, working shifts and missing out on my weekends and, for starters, a role in PR offered a much more attractive work/life balance. The first few months in my new role were challenging, having to adapt to a whole new way of working and being introduced to aspects of the job that I’d never really known before, like facing clients and building external relationships, working to monetary targets each month and understanding how digital PR works.
It’s these elements of the job, though, as time goes on, that are providing the new challenge I was craving, getting to see how a business works behind-the-scenes and being heavily involved in that. I knew already that I would probably enjoy the editorial side of a PR role, after all that was my strength coming in and where my knowledge and expertise sat, but the business related aspects are what forced me to really step outside of my comfort zone.
Having the freedom to explore content ideas I might not have been able to previously has been really refreshing
Luckily for me, on the consumer team here at Press Box, I still get to indulge in my love for all things showbiz and TV. Our content plans are largely driven by celebrity news, mainstream TV shows, all things Royal and the latest lifestyle trends. Creating content to drive coverage for our clients plays a massive part in what we do day-to-day and having the freedom to explore ideas and topics that I might not have previously or that I’m passionate about has been really refreshing.
Constantly tapping into your creative side to come up with new projects and plans, whether it be interviewing body language experts, sitting down with celebrity talent or constructing a survey to find out the nation’s biggest dating icks, means I can still satisfy that journalistic bug I’ll probably always have, all while producing newsworthy content to secure those all-important results each month.
It’s here where I’ve found the skills I had as a journalist have been hugely transferable and massively benefit what I’m doing now as a PR. Journalists know what journalists want, you still have that same eye for a story, you know what works as a news angle and what doesn’t, you know the type of content or headline that will grab an editor’s attention and you know what stands out in a journalist’s inbox clogged up with constant PR emails. Not to mention, you already have the contacts to ensure your content is landing in the hands of the right people.
Your journalistic instincts are your best tool
That’s not to say that I haven’t faced hurdles editorially. Again, as a journalist you’ll know that sometimes you don’t have time to go through every PR email you’re sent and stories pitched to an editor don’t always end up getting published. It can be disheartening when you’ve created a release you’re sure will get picked up and you get no response, or a journalist tells you it could be one for them, but it never appears online. Of course, it’s frustrating and having to chase and follow-up with journos can feel a little awkward at times, but it’s all part and parcel of the job.
I’ve learnt that a release isn’t always immediately successful. Pitches can be stored and used at a later date, with a release surfacing in the news months later after you originally sent it - and there’s always the chance to resell something. Again, your journalistic instincts are your best tool. Is there a relevant trend/topic emerging in the news agenda that could make your release relevant again? Is there another sell you can pull from it that may have more appeal? You’re already equipped to deal with the editorial setbacks that come your way.
That said, when a content idea you’ve worked on materialises in the press and it’s picked up by several news sites, that feeling of seeing your work published is still the same. Yes, it may not have your byline but you still get that same buzz and an added perk is that you’re impressing your clients at the same time. Creating content this side of the fence also allows you to target those dream publications that maybe you hadn’t got round to writing for in your journo days. Since being at Press Box, content I’ve planned and produced has landed on leading sites like Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Town and Country, Hello! and You Magazine, and there’s plenty more that I’ve got my sights set on.
PR is never boring and the work you do day-to-day is constantly evolving
Like journalism, I’ve found PR is never boring and the work you do day-to-day is constantly evolving as the news agenda changes. Whether it be brainstorming content for the month ahead, planning a celebrity hosted event to entertain and network with journalists, attending client meetings or tracking down an expert to try and test a new hack, there’s plenty of opportunities to get stuck into and always room to grow and develop.
Several months into making that initial jump, I can safely say it’s been a great move for me both personally and professionally - and one I definitely don’t regret. I’ve managed to carve out a new career and develop new skills, all while still embracing my journalistic roots and working within sectors of the news that I most enjoy. Here’s to what’s next in store…
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