Friday, January 5, 2018
Being a Reporter Doesn't Make You Good At Pr
So my credentials here are simple - I was a games and tech reporter from 2003 through probably about 2009. I did print and online reporting. Reviews, previews, news, features. I answered to an Editor, a Deputy Editor and a copy editor.
Now that I've said that, I'll tell you the truth; being a former reporter does not give you any special skills at PR. None. It prepares you maybe to possibly understand what kind of work reporters do, possibly letting you make some allowances for them. Beyond potentially the knowledge that you'd gain to be a good reporter, like the knowledge of an industry and possibly writing, you're getting nothing.
In fact I'd go as far as to say that it's a bad thing because you'll go into it expecting to have some sort of special 'in' with reporters. That mostly doesn't mean jack shit to anybody. And I've really rarely seen a reporter who automatically is good at writing pitches or whatever because they're used to writing ARTICLES. Not pitches. Or press releases. So what would you do in said article? Of course, put down everything. Perfect, great.
Of course the great part is that you're also assumed to have some special magic sauce that means you are connected to reporters through some borg-network. It means nothing. Naught. If you're hiring a reporter person because you think they'll be some sort of PR genius without knowing it, you've already made a big mistake.
This isn't actually about Eric Savitz moving to Brunswick (none of which I'll link). I can't understand why he'd do it, but he has 29 years in reporting and is becoming a partner. That's next-level, I-don't-know shit.
Sure, sure, some guy that you hire from a high-end producer job at a news station might have good ins with TV, or their particular industry. That might help. That's a strategic hire I guess.
What I am talking about is hiring reporters who have done 3 to 5 to 10 years of work into AE or Manager or Director positions and expecting them to wave their magic wand to create campaign success. I'm sure they certainly can tell a bad pitch, but can they say why? Maybe they'll be a faster learner. I suppose it's a good starting point beyond, say, knowing absolutely nothing. But it doesn't mean magic happens.
I see it time and time again and wonder exactly what people expect.
In truth the reporter will be dropped into a totally different world of wild expectations and corporate bullshit that will make their head spin. It'll be less about the result and more about the appearence. What's expected of you will be so different to what you do now that you'll beg for the days that you could just write down what you were thinking without some dickhead telling you it's not 'on message.' If you're a reporter thinking about going into PR, just don't. Don't do it. There's not even that much money in it.
I realize that it's probably just because someone out there thought it sounds like a good idea because REPORTERS HAVE THE INSIDE SCOOP.
In fact let's make a decision and a deliberate distinction here. Reporters and PR people have very different jobs, as much as masturbatory PR posts might say OH YES PR PEOPLE ARE JUST LIKE REPORTERS, THEY LOOK FOR INFORMATION, THEY PUT IT INTO A WAY THAT SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS AND WHOOP DE DOO THEY'RE A FUCKING REPORTER. That kind of self-gratifying and delusional thinking is what ruins our industry. Reporters write things to tell a story or whatever and I guess your vapid press release or pitch might 'tell a story' but really there's no difference between your day to day.
Elmer Fudd and Buggs Bunny have nothing in common beyond them both running.