Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From Journalism to PR

It wasn’t that long ago, well, only 22 years that I graduated from the University of
Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism
certain I would retire as a TV news correspondent.

At the time, the civil war in El Salvador raged on and I had ideals of covering that conflict; but instead worked in Lubbock for a quick six months after graduation. Newsrooms were also increasingly becoming computerized.

As technology progressed, I could never envision the change it would affect on journalism. More often than not, I was rushing from crime scene tragedy after another, focused on my presentation for the 10 p.m. news while Silicon Valley tekkies were formulating blogs and about to give birth to Facebook and Twitter.

Now, four years into my PR career, I have found a real willingness and camaraderie among PR practitioners to help newcomers and freely share information. It’s truly the economy of giving.

Leaving TV news was easy but so was the transition into public relations.

Shortly after leaving TV news without a job, I walked into my first PRSA mixer. The late Marilyn Potts, PRSA Chapter president, took me by the hand and began introducing me to members. Marilyn told me, as did Kami Watson Huyse, that public relations is about forming “relationships.” I’ll always remember showing Kami a masterful campaign we planned for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Kami looked at it and said, “That’s nice. However, you can have the best campaign in the world but it won’t mean anything if you don’t have relationships.”

As my former colleagues transition out of TV news, or anyone interested in public relations, I really encourage attending PRSA functions. Introduce yourself; let people know you’re available. Ask people how they did it and what they’d recommend.

I really enjoy public relations and PRSA. I have much to learn, but in my brief time in public relations, I have travelled the globe, literally.

You don't have to be the gregarious sterotype of PR practitioners, either. Even the more subdued have found success in PR. In short, network and keep asking questions. It’ll be your first foray into another honorable and wonderful profession as you form lasting relationships.