Ben Archibald, account manager in our Glasgow team, discusses how he moved from the world of journalism to PR.

After 12 years of “chipping away at the coalface of truth” as a journalist, I realised it was time for a change, and decided to follow the well-trodden path from journalism to PR. Over 18 months on I’m really happy with the decision I made to move into the industry and join BIG Partnership as an Account Manager back in August 2021.

As I approach my two-year anniversary of working in my new role, it got me thinking about some of the differences and similarities I’ve found between life in journalism and PR, and what I’ve learned since taking up the role.

I’m also using it as an excuse to finally post something on LinkedIn, which I have neglected – not making a single post on my own page since joining in 2010. [A lot of news journalists have historically seen Twitter as being a cooler/more relevant place to post than LinkedIn– although Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has negatively impacted its popularity – but I can definitely see the benefits of it from the other side.]

What have I learned?  

There are a lot of transferrable skills – In journalism you are writing every day and it’s the same in PR. Writing tight, relevant copy is equally as important in PR, if not more so, especially as you no longer have the safety net of a sub-editor to rectify any blunders. Also, a good news story is a good story, regardless of whether it is written by a journalist as an article or by a PR as a press release.

Good relationships are equally as important in PR – You spend a lot of time as a journalist building up relationships with contacts and PRs, whereas in PR you’re instead focused on improving relationships with clients, potential new clients, and journalists. The more contacts you have as a journalist, the more stories you have, and in PR the better your relationship with journalists, the more you can pitch and place good content, therefore providing the best possible service to your clients, so again there are definite similarities between the two industries.

You still get the same coverage buzz in PR – Some journalists might think they’ll miss the buzz of getting a byline splash or spread if they eventually leave the world of journalism behind. My journalist pals would likely quip that I never got much coverage as a reporter to begin with, so this was never likely to be an issue for me, but I genuinely get a similar buzz, if not more, in PR, from getting good coverage for a client. It’s often a longer process in PR, with a lot of work in the background before you finally get to the stage of issuing any release, so it’s always rewarding when something you’ve put a lot of work into goes well.

It’s great to get a chance to learn new skills – After being a journalist for so long, some aspects of the job had become second nature, so it has been good to push myself outside my comfort zone. Getting the chance to write releases, craft reactive statements, organise events and interviews, support stakeholder engagement and many other things has been nice and there’s great variety to working in the agency environment.

I will keep my first blogging effort relatively short and sweet. It has taken roughly 4500 days since joining LinkedIn to make my very first post on my LinkedIn page. If I keep up this success rate, you can all look forward to my next blog in early 2036!

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