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How to adapt from journalism to a career in PR

By Sarah-Jayne Tobin, Tuesday, 22nd December 2020 | 0 comments
Filed under: Irish Technology Sector, Public Relations, Crisis Communications, PR, PR study.

A year ago, I decided that after 17 years in broadcast journalism working for Newstalk and RTÉ among others, it was time for a change. I still had a passion for media but wanted to broaden my horizons and deploy my skills in a new environment. Transitioning to the world of PR was the obvious choice as there are many commonalities across both lines of work.  

I was particularly enthused by the fast-paced and varied nature of PR, as well as the extensive opportunities for professional development and growth. Working with Comit gives me the opportunity to work alongside some of the most dynamic and cutting-edge tech companies both here in Ireland, and on the international stage. I also enjoy the social side of PR, as there are many events running right throughout the year. I feel my personality is particularly well-suited to this industry.

High-level writing skills are a core attribute of a successful PR professional. Many of the day-to-day responsibilities involve writing and editing various strands of content both for clients’ internal and external stakeholders. The main objective is to serve the client, while also ensuring that we are properly serving the media who are such important stakeholders. 

Meanwhile, a journalist is tasked with the responsibility of providing people with reliable, easy to digest information about the world around them. Journalists don’t work for media houses per se, but for their readers, listeners, and viewers. Their success is measured by the trust they command from their audience.  

In my role with Ireland’s top tech PR agency, Comit Communications, I continuously use my experience working across various news desks, radio and television stations over the years to connect our clients and their news to the right journalist in the right publication at the right time. 

Here are four key PR skills that transfer from broadcast journalism and are very beneficial to my work with Comit, helping to generate maximum coverage and exposure for our clients. 


1. Be reactive and proactive  

During my time as a news journalist, I spent my days reacting to an evolving news agenda and keeping a close eye on trends. I have found this to be a very transferable skill in my work with Comit, constantly working to establish how exactly issues of the day tie in with our clients’ goals, objectives and strategies.  

Journalists are often generalists who want to know everything about everything - and in my case, this is a habit I have yet to break! This discipline has helped to take a strategic approach to media outreach and content creation. With an agile PR strategy, we aim to successfully tie our clients in with the news agenda every day.  


2. Knowing what the media wants 

What is important to our client may not necessarily be important to a journalist or editor. They focus entirely on the interests of their audience first and foremost. I have used my experience working in journalism to advise our clients on the standout points of a press release or pitch that will attract interest from journalists.  

At Comit, we have excellent relationships with many of the top technology, finance, and business journalists in the country.  While many of our clients operate in quite technical and niche sectors, I help translate the language to make releases and content more understandable and relatable to a broader audience. 


3. Fine-tune client messaging 


A one size fits all approach to interviews and pitches simply does not work. As a journalist, for many years I was the one asking the questions. Equipped with this experience, I help prepare our clients ahead of media interviews to ensure that their message is clear, concise, and considerate of the particular audience of a programme or publication.  


4. Media relationships and knowledge

My knowledge of the Irish media landscape and the reporters involved gives our clients the edge when it comes to making the most of an announcement or media opportunity. If the client manages to address the journalist’s queries with poise and professionalism, while offering unique insights that add a layer of expertise to the story, they are more likely to look favourably upon the client when considering future coverage and interview opportunities. 

The above examples demonstrate the breadth of transferable skills from the newsroom to the agency, but while it’s good to harness experience, it’s equally important to broaden your professional knowledge and adapt to a new environment. Since making the switch to PR, I’ve had the opportunity to cultivate new skills, establish new connections, and gain an even greater appreciation for the media landscape here in Ireland, and globally.  

Comit was on my radar for a long time before I decided to make the switch. The agency epitomises everything I enjoyed about journalism but with the fresh challenge of working in a specialised yet extremely exciting sector. All our clients are very different- but they all have one thing in common. They impact the lives of every single person in society in a positive way.

Nine months since joining Comit, I’ve sharpened my skillset, learned a great deal about the evolving tech sector and embarked on an exciting new career trajectory. I love the collaborative atmosphere, the can-do attitude of my colleagues, and the sense that we are making a tangible difference to the success of our clients on a daily basis.

For anyone reading who is considering a similar move, I would encourage you to back yourself, and be open to exploring new opportunities outside your comfort zone. You won’t regret it! 

Comit is currently hiring and if you are considering a move, why not check our PR jobs page


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