It’s been just over a year since I graduated with a BA(hons) in Journalism and Politics and, since then, I’ve begun work as a Digital PR and Outreach Executive for Conscious Solutions.
There are many skills that I have learned from my degree which I feel have helped me broaden my understanding of PR. One of the most obvious, but equally most important, skills a degree in Journalism teaches you is how to make something newsworthy. This skill, I feel, easily translates into the world of Digital PR. From strategic link-building to writing eye-catching press releases, the profession is all about having a knack for creating newsworthy content.
Not only do both these industries share transferable skills, but they also have a relationship which is symbiotic in nature. As PR professionals depend on journalists to get their stories out, journalists rely on PR professionals to help find interesting and topical stories, meet deadlines and fill quotas.
Below I’m going to give a run-through of some of the major similarities and differences that I’ve found between journalism and digital PR. As well as exploring how a degree in journalism has positively contributed to my role in providing digital PR services for law firms.
Similarities Between Journalism and PR
Keeping up to date with the news
While keeping up to date with the news isn’t exactly a skill, it is something that both professions and law firms expect at a base level. Frequently engaging with the news and recent trends allows both journalists and PR professionals to “get a feel” for what makes a good story and what is currently trending and important in the legal sector. This helps us to get our client's content out in front of journalists before their competitors and create a story that is worth sharing. It also helps to develop a wider appreciation of how the news cycle works.
Understanding how journalists structure and angle their stories, alongside knowing what’s currently trending, has helped me produce content which is timelier and more engaging.
As professional communicators, both journalists and PR professionals are required to have good writing skills. The two professions learn how to use words effectively to tell a story and generate engagement.
For journalists, this can include coming up with new and exciting content whereas, for a PR professional, the aim is to condense their stories into press releases by providing engaging but only necessary detail.
Having a degree in Journalism has not only helped improve my ability to write proficiently but has also encouraged me to get more creative with how I use words. Law firm content can sometimes include a lot of jargon, so these skills help me to create content that best shows off law firm expertise but make it digestible to journalists and their readers.
Storytelling and Editorial Judgement
Coming from a Journalism background has given me a wider appreciation of the demands and restrictions journalists currently face. Journalists get inundated with pitches and stories every day, so it is important to understand what makes a good story and how to deliver it.
Having a degree in Journalism has meant I have found it easier to judge what kind of stories are likely to catch a journalist’s attention, as well as finding effective ways to pitch stories to them. My degree has also encouraged me to think about what makes great stories from the perspective of a reader. Once you grasp an idea of what your readership wants, your writing can become a lot more targeted and effective. This is particularly effective when coming up with niche angles for stacks of data from the Census to create an interesting angle for law firms.
Building and Maintaining Relationships
Building a solid rapport with journalists is the cornerstone of any successful PR campaign. To achieve this rapport, regular pitching and communication is key, as they will help build trust and respect with journalists. We do this with our law firm clients too.
Studying a degree in journalism has helped me exercise these social skills, through interviewing people for stories and creating relationships with journalists, PR practitioners and other industry connections. My degree has also meant I have a deeper understanding of journalists’ needs and desires, and therefore how to communicate with them more strategically and efficiently.
Why Digital PR is Different to Journalism?
While traditional PR and print journalism has often been characterised by their mutual dependence, digital PR is a little more complex. Although both traditional and digital forms of PR focus on harnessing good publicity for their clients, digital PR is more tailored to positively increasing your law firms online presence.
With this came a lot of new terms and theories that were unfamiliar to me, such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the value of link building. However, these concepts and ideas were fairly easy to pick up and, so far, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of learning something new and seeing results in the domain rating and link profile of our clients.
How a Journalism Degree has Helped the Work I do for Law Firms
While on the surface it may be difficult to find an obvious link between journalism and law, when you dig a little deeper you will find there are many skills journalism teaches you which are beneficial when providing services for law firms.
Some of these skills include the ability to produce insightful interpretations and commentary on a range of topics and events. These skills can help generate interesting and positive coverage for our clients. Additionally, having journalistic creativity and keeping up to date with current affairs have helped me massively in making our client's services newsworthy and topical.
And in the unfortunate event that one of our clients was to receive bad news coverage, possessing an understanding of how the mainstream media operates can help me effectively manage and respond to this coverage.
What Made me Want to Work in Digital PR?
Digital PR was initially attractive to me due to its infancy and constantly evolving nature. It was something different to the traditional forms of PR I’d been taught at Uni and that, to me, was exciting.
Not only is being part of an ever-expanding and thriving industry rewarding, but it provides you with the ability to be creative and constantly be thinking of new and innovative ways to do things.
In addition to this, I wanted to build on the skills I’d learnt throughout my time at university, many of which have helped some of the tasks I do daily, such as creating newsworthy stories and maintaining healthy rapport with journalists.
As for now, I’m enjoying learning the new possibilities and endless ways of doing things in the Digital PR industry. I’m excited to build and advance my career in the sector, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me.