Q&A: A Journalist’s Transition to Public Relations
Even though Communication Solutions Group is a PR and marketing firm, most of its employees started out in the journalism field and transitioned to PR in their role at Communication Solutions. We asked PR Associate Kellie Dietrich to spill the details of her evolution from journalist to publicist.
Why did you decide to transition from journalism to PR?
Kellie Dietrich: I decided to transition into PR because the newspaper industry was struggling. Prior to joining Communication Solutions, I worked at the Reading Eagle newspaper. Many reporters and editors there came from nearby papers that were bought by large conglomerates and downsized their staff. After working part-time for over a year and freelancing with other companies, I knew there was little room to grow and began looking for new positions. I still wanted a career where I could do what I loved – write – and thought PR and marketing would be the perfect choice. I was also attracted to the variety of projects at Communication Solutions from writing annual reports, press releases and ads to social media posts, speeches and blogs.
How is PR different from journalism?
KD: PR moves at a much slower pace than journalism, especially with large-scale projects like annual reports. Because everything I work on is to benefit my clients, they have to approve everything I write before I can move forward. Meanwhile in journalism, I wrote quotes as people said them and printed them – they didn’t get a say in how a story was told.
How is PR similar to journalism?
KD: The writing in PR is still very similar to newspaper writing. If I write longer press releases with quotes and details that is essentially a complete article, some news organizations will publish exactly what I wrote. The process is also similar to journalism. I still interview people, write stories and see the results.
What were you surprised to learn?
KD: I was surprised to learn that we write statements, quotes, speeches and letters for powerful people. When I heard my first speech read aloud to an audience, it was a proud moment for me.
What was challenging in your transition?
KD: One thing that was challenging for me is having my schedule out of my control. I have to wait for clients to call or email me back for interviews or information, wait for clients’ approval, wait to see if reporters can cover stories and wait for the stories to come out. I also have no control of whether a client will have a crisis arise and if one does, handling that is my first priority.
What do you enjoy about your job?
KD: In addition to writing and working on a variety of projects, I really enjoy forming a positive relationship with my clients and building a connection with them. It feels great to help them get their stories in the media and to the public.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work in PR?
KD: My advice is don’t be afraid to switch to PR! If you are a journalist, then you will understand the unique story angles that journalists are looking for, and if you have a strong writing style, that will carry over to PR as well. Ultimately, you may enjoy PR just as much or even more than journalism!