The force is strong in PR
23rd June 2016
Some seven years ago I wrote the words: “This industry is amazing, and one that I’m proud to have been welcomed into.” No, it wasn’t a random love-in, but my last words as a trade journalist in the glazing industry. Or so I thought. As it turns out, the tentacles of the industry grab and embrace you no matter how far out you step, and in a matter of weeks I found myself editing another industry publication, and then another. When I announced I was joining the ladies at Brouha back in 2012, a lot of journalist friends joked: “Why the move over to the dark side?” This blog examines that perception and highlights just some of the things I have learned from working for both the rebels and the empire.
1. Transferable skills
Writing is crucial when working in PR and Marketing, and all communications – be they PR, article, advert or tweet – should have a purpose, be well written, accurate in content, and adhere to the customer voice, strategy and objectives. Any journos reading this will know that these skills, whilst second nature, are greatly honed working in magazines, and so stood me in good stead for my PR career. Learning how to quickly pick up various aspects of the industry in the pursuit of a story was integral in quickly gaining an understanding of all customers in the Brouha stable. The biggest challenge of course was adapting from a magazine to PR style of writing.
2. New skills
Having been confident when it came to writing press releases or articles, I had never, for example, written or sent a direct mail in my life. I had to learn all about style, databases, distribution methods, reporting and everything that came with it. As an editor, pitching for business was largely the reserve of the advertising sales team. In PR, it’s on each and every one of us. Leaving Brouha I take with me a renewed confidence when it comes to presenting to a team of people, and an understanding of the strategy involved when it comes to marketing – even marketing a magazine.
3. Myth busting
PR is not easier than journalism. Sorry journos! I too thought differently when working with my publisher at opposite sides of the country at ridiculous pm to close an issue, but the last four years have taught me otherwise. You need to learn at a fast pace about every individual customer to ghost-write with authority on their product range and industry issues and you cannot get something finished swiftly without approval by someone who might well be in Beirut as deadline approaches. In addition, you are no longer the guest of honour at press events. Think about that one for a second!
4. The customer is king
Customers pay our wages at the end of the day, so one of our biggest tasks is keeping them happy. Where, as a journalist, I may have weighed up the pros and cons of running a story I knew might be controversial with some advertisers, but which could gain readers, in PR the customer is king. However, that doesn’t mean we can be ‘yes’ people. Far from it. If a customer wants to do something we feel could be detrimental to their reputation, we have to find the diplomacy, tact, and maturity to fight our corner.
5. PR is fun!
I guess it depends on the people you work with and the industry in which you operate, but at Brouha, and in the glazing industry, no two days are the same, which is awesome. The industry events where we get to catch up with customers, press and other friends have often had me laughing until it hurt. But so too has a day in the office.
In conclusion, yes, journalism stood me in great stead to move into PR, but I still had a lot to learn. Learn it I did, and I now have a whole new skillset which will stand me in equally good stead to return to the ‘light’ side. Where did that phrase come from, by the way? Surely there is a synergy between customer/advertiser, PR and magazines, all of which have their own shades of light and dark. But the force is definitely strong in PR, and in the glazing industry. I shall miss both enormously.