After only a couple of months in my new role at Rumpus PR, I’ve learned so much. With 15 years of experience in journalism under my belt, I’ve really hopped the fence with this new role. But it’s something I’m relishing more and more each day. As I reflect on my time so far, I wanted to reflect on the similarities between journalism and PR and the skills I brought into the role that helped me hit the ground running.
Whether you’re a journalist or a PR, press releases are your bread and butter. They’re your bible, your cheat sheet for a story. Understanding exactly what, a journalist wants from it helps me keep my writing focused. Information and key details are king here, without the fluff. I’ve been sent press releases before that exceed four pages and still leave me asking questions and needing information. I’ve had press releases that stray from the subject matter, like in the music industry being full of rafters with excessive hyperbole. All these negative & positive experiences inform my approach to writing press releases for our clients.
Understanding their purpose too, goes a long way. Keeping your press releases to a page, in my opinion, is a must. You’re not writing to flex your vocabulary or flaunt your skills, you’re writing to inform, full stop.
This is another great instance where my experiences, both good and bad, have helped pave the way for me. Journalists are busy, they’re battling deadlines & searching for the very best stories, so you should keep your emails short & sweet.
On the other side of the fence, I’ve had many PRs email me with few-word answers, and they get the work done. That being said, it is very much about building relationships too. A strong relationship can, when push comes to shove, help push your story ahead of another. As a journalist, when you receive an email which you know has been sent out en masse, a little personality does go a long way. A focus on why this release is of interest to that person – not job role – specifically.
What’s important is knowing that these relationships come with time. Journalists – and PRs – don’t want War & Peace hitting their inbox every passing minute, but establishing friendly, positive relationships whilst efficiently getting the work done or messages across can reap huge rewards.
At this point, I honestly feel like I’ve done more interviews than I’ve had hot dinners. From sporting and musical superstars to lords, politicians, children (those two often on a parr) and members of the public going about their day. I’ve learnt to tailor my approach to each interview. It s about who I’m talking to, what I’m talking about and what the purpose of the interview is. As such, not a lot has changed here, but feeling friendly and approachable and making sure the interviewee knows I’m here to tell their story and promote their business and not trip them up or create a scandal, helps make the interview a conversation – and one that yields oodles of golden nuggets.
Now I’ve changed teams, there has been plenty of need for adaptability. Whilst I’m a strong writer, I’ve still had to learn to adapt my tone of voice, for B2B writing specifically, and then again to tailor my writing to the needs, wants and house style of each client – what are the buzz words a client wants, what are the words they want to avoid like the plague. How can my writing angle a client as a leader in its industry without being superfluous? For that, I’ve done a lot of reading. I want to grasp the differences between trade and consumer writing.
An old boss once told me my writing style should be “more Toyota Prius and less Herbie the Love Bug”, and whilst that isn’t the case here, understanding what vehicle I should be driving to get a message from A to B has been an important process. Sure, I can have flowery language and make my pieces read nicely, but I don’t want to be driving a greenhouse – that mode of transportation counts for a lot.
Hustle, hustle, hustle
And now that I am on the other side of the fence, I need to get better at hustling. It’s one thing I’ve never really done too much of before, and I don’t think I’ll ever be a Terry Tibbs type or a Harry-Redknapp-leaning-out-his-car-window-wheeler-dealer but learning how to sell my ideas to journalists and publications, and how and when to chase unanswered emails or unpublished press releases, is a balancing act I’m enjoying feeling out.
I know that, as the months go by, I’ll have plenty more learning to do. I’ll grow – hopefully more in line with a bamboo shoot rather than an oak tree – and continue to hone my journalism skills in a B2B PR setting, but I’m glad for all the experiences, both good and bad, that I’ve had before coming into this role to help shape me into the best PR and content creator I can be.