A year ago, I started at ON Broadcast. A fresh off the boat jobless Australian journalist, turning the tables and testing the waters of PR in a brand new country and a brand new media environment. So, 12 months on what have I learnt?
PR IS WAY HARDER THAN JOURNALISM
I’ll admit, as a journalist my colleagues and I used to peer at the PRs from a distance, not understanding them and often judging their journalistic approach to things with an air of superiority. Pffft, what do they know about the news agenda – they work for brands! We work for ‘the people’…cringe.
Well, what a difference a year makes. I now look at the world of media from a completely different angle. As a journalist, I had it easy. The number one question I used to get as a journalist was: ‘Where do you get your news?’ The answer was, from all over the place; emergency services, twitter, rolling BBC/ CNN coverage and of course, press releases and cue sheets. That last one actually made up the biggest chunk, we’d get press releases from government departments, charities and brands. But what it boils down to, is for most journalists in rolling radio and TV coverage it’s not overly investigative, you write what you see, you tell stories – and more importantly, you take already formed press releases and transform them into sound bites and pictures. But as a PR, you have to write to please not just one audience but three; the public, the client AND the journalist. You have to write something that is going to please all parties, which is tricky. I have found my writing and approach has had to become a lot more creative, and clever and in some cases…sneaky. PRs are feeding the news agenda and morphing it – more than I think even journalists realise.
CLIENT MANAGEMENT IS SO REWARDING
As a journalist, you don’t have clients. You don’t really have KPIs to reach and you don’t deal with money. My old boss used to tell us that we, as the newsroom, were the biggest drag on a radio station. It’s the only department that doesn’t MAKE money just TAKES money. (Usually in the form of cab charges and hotel rooms when sent to stories). So I had never worked for a client, as part of my work. It’s been the element I’ve loved the most moving to the other side of media. There’s nothing more rewarding than getting killer coverage for a client and seeing their excitement.
I DON’T MISS MEDIA HOURS ONE LITTLE BIT
As a journalist you work (most of the time) very unsocial hours. The ‘ideal’ in the media world, is breakfast, which is a charming 3/4am start. It is very rare that a broadcast journalist works a normal 9-5. I now only work media hours on campaign days, and I can’t believe how much more of a social life I have. I have regained my weekends, and it’s glorious. But it’s a good pointer to remember for any of our clients out there reading this. Sometimes you might turn up your nose at a super early breakfast slot, or a late afternoon or even a weekend live slot on a lifestyle program – but these are some of the prime times in the world of media.
SO, WHICH DO I PREFER?
There are elements I miss about frontline news. I miss the adrenaline of covering breaking stories, I miss providing listeners with as it unfolds information and interviewing interesting people about fascinating things. But I don’t miss the hours, I love the creativeness of PR, I love the building of campaigns, I love guiding clients through the world of broadcast and coming up with weird and wacky and inspiring ways to get coverage. In journalism, every day is a new start, which is both a blessing and a curse. While you have no homework, or no jobs that carry on for more than a day, you don’t really get anything to sink your teeth into and build. I love it when you rock a client’s world, and get them cracking coverage. In journalism, you can’t really tell if your listeners are happy with your work until the quarterly Rajar figures come out.
Overall, I now feel that after a year in broadcast PR – I have a much more 360 view of how media, and the media cycle works. Journalists need PRs just as much as we need them. We are one in the same, just of a slightly different flavour and working for a slightly different goal. Media is an ever-transforming beast, and one I will always be addicted too, whatever its form.