Contributed by PRSA Oregon partner
Allen Hall PR, University of Oregon
Public relations professionals come from a variety of backgrounds with an array of expertise. A common background for those currently working in PR often begins with journalism. The two fields have similar core characteristics that make the skills learned in a journalism career easily transferable to the PR world and vice versa. The following are a few of the many components journalism and public relations have in common.
PR and journalism deal directly with communication. They also share a common audience – the public. It is the job of the PR representative as well as the journalist to serve as a public informant with pertinent information. The entire idea behind the two professions is that the public can look to these people and know they are going to be kept up to date with the news occurring around them. Whether it is an article in the local newspaper or a press release from Google, PR professionals and journalists alike are constantly sharing information with the public.
Pitching is one of the biggest components when it comes to PR and journalism. Both professions call for the sharing of ideas and this is generally when PR professionals and journalists will interact the most. In PR, most pitching is done to the media, meaning PR professionals must convince journalists that a story pertaining to their brand is good enough to be shared with the public and categorized as newsworthy. In journalism, it comes down to pitching stories to an editor and convincing them that the story is worth letting the public know about. Being able to pitch a story and have it get picked up by a journalist or the media outlet itself is a strong skill that is constantly used in both professions.
PR and journalism are fields in which the professional tells a story. On one hand, the PR representative is telling the story of a brand while journalists are telling the story of the people. PR generally tells that story to the public in the form of campaigns and products while journalists will use media as the primary source of communication. PR storytelling is more end goal-focused while journalism deals less with strategic communication. In the end, the core characteristic remains the same. Both professions call for storytelling as a vital skill that is at the heart of communication.
In both PR and journalism, trust is essential. Trust between the communicator and the public is crucial for PR and journalism to survive – it is also one of the most important components in each profession’s code of ethics. In PR you must have the trust of the public in order to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. In journalism, you must operate as a non-bias “watchdog” in order to share facts and truth with your audience. If there is ever a mistake or mix-up, professionals in both fields are expected to come forward and state their wrong because, without transparency, both professions would lose vital audience trust.