Why is PR and marketing a valuable use of journalism skills?

An ex BBC colleague e-mailed me a few days ago to ask me this question.

She’d been asked to deliver a lecture to 3rd year journalism students and wanted  quotes from people who had made the switch. So I sat down to ponder exactly why PR and marketing are a valuable use of our precious journalism skills.

This is what I came up with;

I should start by saying that all the PR and marketing I have picked up since I left the BBC has been of the ‘social media’ variety. This is apparently a good thing! So many industries are being re-made in the wake of social media that it has been an advantage to come in at a time when I really didn’t know what it was like before.

Journalists are needed in marketing and PR right now because we know about creating and curating content.

Social media marketing is all about content – creating original bits and pieces to pull in your audience, which can range from writing posts on Facebook and Twitter to longer blog posts through to selecting pictures and making video. Knowing how to get someone’s attention, story selection, structure, headline writing are all essential for this kind of content creation and they are all skills which I learned as a journalist.

Even when you are picking out other peoples’ work to retweet or re-blog, you are using your journalist’s eye for what works.

I know very little about recruitment, but one of my clients is a recruiter so I often have to sift through trade blogs and websites for interesting stories about the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector for his LinkedIn group. I know that if a story interests me then it will probably also appeal to the group’s members because however specialized, a good tale is still a good tale.

 Good journalists don’t need to be frightened of the areas that PR and marketing might take them into because it has always been the job of the generalist journo to grasp a brief quickly and make it accessible to a mass audience, however complex.

Other things worth mentioning are the direction being taken by companies like Boden, who are effectively creating their own online communities – online magazines with an interactive element – which should not faze anyone who has worked for a woman’s magazine or supermarket publication. In the same way, other big companies are deciding that instead of trying to get their positive pr stories placed “out there” in the random world of newspapers and magazines, they will write them themselves on their blogs – look at this example from the food company General Mills http://www.blog.generalmills.com/category/life/ which has video interviews and articles.

 I hear some business types criticizing journalists in PR and marketing because we have a rather cavalier attitude towards things like Return on Investment and metrics. It is worth having some kind of smart answer to this but I don’t know what it is!  

So there you have it – journalists really are the best people to turn to when you need some social media marketing and PR and be sure to pick one with a sense of humour.


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