Making the move from journalism to PR
It has been a month since Stuart Greer joined SKV after a 15-year career as a journalist. After a recent trip to the Regional Press Awards he talks about his journey from journalist to PR professional.
Last week I was invited to the world-famous Savoy hotel in London to attend the Regional Press Awards.
I was there as a nominee for the Business and Finance Journalist of the Year award, in recognition of my work during 2018 for the Manchester Evening News before my move to SKV.
It was a delightfully unexpected honour to find myself alongside some of the biggest names in regional business journalism.
While I didn’t win my individual award, as a former member of the digital team at the MEN I did have a hand in the MEN’s accolade of Website of the Year. It was a near-perfect swan song to a 15-year career.
It was also fantastic opportunity to see my former colleagues and friends, accumulated during my 13-year tenure at one of the country’s most revered regional newspapers, and a great chance to network with journalists from all over the country in my new role as PR consultant.
There was even a surprise reunion with a former colleague from the Newbury Weekly News – which won Weekly Newspaper of the Year – and where my journalism career started 15 years ago before I moved North.
I remembered that as a young journalist in West Berkshire one of the tasks I disliked the most was helping write content for the business editor. It was my first experience of dealing with the PR profession, keen to get some column inches for their client and in truth I found writing about business and finance dull.
It’s funny that after more than a decade of experience as a general news reporter, local government correspondent and then crime and court reporter, I came full circle and ended up on the business desk at the MEN.
As a business journalist I was fielding hundreds of calls and emails from PRs pitching stories of varying quality and relevance.
Managing my inbox was a relentless battle. But at the end of that process I had a plethora of potential stories for the daily email bulletin, the paper and the magazine.
Whittling them down to the best was in some ways an enviable dilemma and required a ruthlessness which did not come naturally to me. That’s because I knew that at the result of that decision would be that a story that deserved to be told, would not be, by me anyway, and that some enthusiastic PR exec would be left understandably crestfallen, and their client disappointed.
It was while working on the business desk that I got to understand the true value of PR.
I would sometimes go out of my way to praise someone for the standard of a press release or image – not just because it is nice to be nice, but because I wasn’t proud to admit that they had made my job much easier by providing well-written, interesting content.
Those experiences helped me in making the decision to make the move into PR.
Naturally, when I announced that I was leaving journalism, I received the standard mockery journalists love to peddle – that PR is the ‘dark side’ because of the industry’s reputation for helping corporations hide the truth or somehow cultivate good news from bad.
But more and more journalists are moving into PR. It has been a month since I took the plunge and joined SKV and I can honestly say I haven’t regretted it for a second.
There’s not any of this so-called darkness. There is however, a bright, enthusiastic group of people trying to promote the work of their clients to the wider world.
I’ve learnt that those skills I built up through journalism – communication and writing, the ability to absorb and translate information, enthusiasm and perseverance – are so very valuable in PR. But I have also realised I have a lot to learn.
Luckily, I have some of the best mentors in the business to help me in my journey.