As a (very) recent college grad I was happy to land such a good gig at Ketchum, especially in such a tough economy for job seekers with little to no experience. But as a trained journalist, I was a little hesitant about crossing over to the Dark Side, a.k.a. the world of public relations.
In the tight-knit circle of journalists, the world of PR and media relations is often dismissed as the place where the importance of writing skills, development of creative voice, real reporting gumption and compelling content production go to die. You’d be hard pressed to find a journalist who doesn’t roll his or her eyes each time a new press release rolls across their desk, and I’ve heard countless media relations professionals complain about how hard it is to find a member of the media who they can partner with easily. Even as a student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, I was surprised to find so little overlap between journalism and marketing programs. The battle lines had been drawn. Journalist or Marketer: choose your sides, kids.
It’s no secret that Ketchum is one of the top innovators in creative thinking, and the ideas being pumped out of this agency everyday put the creative thinking skills of a lot of journalists to shame. Still, what the outside world often doesn’t realize is that writing skills, development of creative voice, real reporting gumption, compelling content production and creative idea generation are just as fundamental in the PR world as in the world of journalism. Truth be told, the creative process in both professions is pretty analogous.
Especially in a world where media consumption is evolving at insanely fast speeds, it’s even more important for us to embrace our similarities. Our friends in the press room are going to have to acquire our aptitude for truly innovative thinking if they want to secure the future of the journalism industry (I’m looking at you print news media). And as for joining the Dark Side? I’m going to dust off my reporter hat, do my research, and talk to target audiences to develop soundly conceived insights. I believe a PR firm can craft the story pitches that are so well written they go straight to print and produce content across all media platforms that isn’t just cool, but is compelling.
Throw out the labels marketer and journalist. Be a writer, Be a reporter. Be a creator. Be an influencer. And then you’ll truly be a captivating media producer.
Macaela Mackenzie is a creative assistant at Ketchum.