Journalism to PR career change: 5 realities of joining the dark side
Editor’s note: this piece was also published on Rat Race Confessional.
Any journalists considering a career change to the business world are probably wondering what it will be like on “the dark side.” Here are some things I learned since my own transition from journalism to marketing.
1. “PR” IS A TERM FROM A LONG TIME AGO
Journalists often use public relations as the blanket term for all corporate promotion activity. In reality, the term PR usually refers to media relations, but that’s an increasingly small aspect of what marketers do to promote their companies. The days in which PR reps just sent out press releases are long gone.
That’s partly because there are fewer journalists to pitch, and partly because there are many more options to reach people directly rather than through the media. For instance, more and more companies are hiring journalists as part of content marketing efforts, having them do essentially the same thing they have been doing all along. That makes it even less of a career change than ever before.
2. IT’S NOT ALL SO DARK
There are some persuasive theories out there that maybe the Galactic Empire wasn’t actually evil.
Likewise, the supposed dark side of media isn’t all that bad either. While communications has a reputation for misleading through “spin,” there are plenty of respected professionals who will tell you that communicating for companies often means dispelling rumors, explaining science and just effectively writing and talking about what an organization is doing.
In other words, you can change careers to marketing and still stand up for truth.
3. IT’S NOT ALL SO DULL, EITHER
Journalists think the extent of PR creativity is crafting a three-sentence statement. In reality, it’s as creative as you want it to be, and arguably more so than journalism in many ways.
In a typical day as a reporter, you conduct interviews, do research, write and edit, and maybe work with design and photography to put together a graphics package.
In a regular day as a marketer, you may put together a new promotional strategy, design an infographic, write a blog post, interview an expert for a future blog post, organize an event and analyze the results of a recent digital advertising campaign.
The diversity of roles and creative outlets in marketing varies dramatically, with some firms focusing employees on specific tasks, while others give them free rein. Just know that you don’t have to sacrifice inspiration for a paycheck.
4. THERE ARE MORE THAN TWO SIDES
There are more than 100 marketing agencies in a city like Philadelphia (where I work), doing any number of things, from advertising and branding to event promotions and web design. Even of the firms that claim to do the same thing, they almost certainly do it differently. And there are thousands of other companies that have their own in-house marketing departments doing their own variety of work.
That’s all to say that you can’t just rule out marketing without looking at the diversity of opportunities. Different organizations have totally different values and beliefs in how they approach communications, and even though you might disagree with one, you may appreciate another.
5. YOU CAN ALWAYS COME BACK TO THE LIGHT
Spoiler alert! Darth Vader kills the Emperor. So, yes, you can change your mind about this whole dark side thing. Nothing’s stopping you from going back.
In fact, journalists can actually benefit by becoming marketers and then returning to media. It turns out, it might actually benefit your journalism career to
know the power of the dark side have a diversity of career experiences.