By Carla Bridglal
Public Relations Consultant
It’s one of the communications industry’s biggest rivalries—journalism versus public relations. For the last five years, I’ve been a journalist and I’ll admit, I was wary about life on the other side.
Journalists—to use a Star Wars analogy—fancy themselves noble Jedi Knights battling against the Sith Masters of public relations. They’ve even labelled the business “the Dark Side.” But I was curious. The allure of “the Dark Side” was strong, so I decided to check it out myself. I surely wouldn’t be the first journalist to cross over to PR… and apparently, there was also going to be cookies.
Public relations and journalism are different sides of the same coin— the key goal is to inform the public— and both sides seem to be constantly battling to one-up the other. Ultimately, though, there’s an inevitable symbiosis between two—journalists need PR professionals to give them insight and information into an organization and PR pros need journalists to help them disseminate their message. Now, if only they could put their differences aside and just get along. A balance in the Force, if you will.
When the opportunity to work at cmb Creative came up I was actually contemplating whether I wanted to rejoin the local journalism field after a two-year hiatus. Initially, I was nervous. I knew journalism. I didn’t know anything about PR (besides how frustrating it could be sometimes to get a response from a PR spokesperson by deadline) but I figured I was young enough to take the risk and the experience would be worth it. I’ll admit a part of me I felt like I was letting “noble” team media down, and for the first couple days it took me a while to really become mentally settled into a role “on the other side.”
Then my boss showed me a presentation usually pitched to prospective clients and I started to get… excited! PR, it turned out, was just the medium I needed to help me really fine tune the skills I thought I had mastered as a journalist.
I get to flex my creative muscles in ways I never could have before. I get to shape brand messages and develop methods that can help expand their reach. I plan media schedules, tours and engagements. I have to manage crisis communications (the part I’m really looking forward to.) And my experience as a journalist actually comes in really handy, giving me a unique perspective in knowing what journalists need and what they want. I also work on internal public relations—expanding cmb’s online profile through website and social media management (and blogposts like this one.)
It’s a different skillset that ultimately helps me be a more well-rounded person— I can unironically call myself a complete media professional. And let’s just say that, in some ways, the rewards from public relations are a lot better than the media.
I haven’t really had myself tested just yet by mercurial clients or frenetic journalists needing a response by deadline but I look forward to it. Little by little, I’m giving myself over to this side. I think I’m going to like it.
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