In my experience, I’ve found that the most successful PR people are those who think and act like reporters.
Anyone in sales will tell you that you have to know your customer base. For those of us who toil pitching stories to reporters, it certainly helps—and may be imperative—to have the journalistic background that tells how to define a story, write it and present it. PR is sales, and reporters are the customers.
When I was a journalism student at Fordham University, one of my instructors was a news director at a New York City radio station. He told us repeatedly to use the “who cares?” rule to decide which stories to choose for that night’s newscast. Who cares if a guy drove off the George Washington Bridge? Who cares if the price of oil went through the roof today?
The answer to “who cares?” would determine the order of the stories. If more people care about the price of oil than the poor guy who drove off the bridge, then oil is the top story. Journalists know this viscerally. PR people who have never worked in a newsroom may not have that kind of news judgment.
Here’s a quick recap of four key reasons why journalists make the best PR pros. If your department or hiring manager is debating whom to hire—a former journalist versus someone who has never worked the newsroom—offer this list.