One big challenge many journalists face in their transition to PR is limited exposure to the business side of things.
For journalists switching careers, there’s often a steep learning curve, as it takes more than strong reporting, writing and editing skills to help clients and organizations succeed.
To aid with the transition, here are five areas in which to focus your efforts:
1. New business development
Journalists are not salespeople and are not used to persuading audiences to pay for their services. In publishing, this is typically handled by sales and circulation.
To succeed at an agency, you must think about client service, business opportunities, community and corporate partnerships. Collaboration is essential, and it sometimes takes a bit of salesmanship.
2. Return on investment
From veteran editors to newbie reporters, most journalists understand that business is about generating revenue, adhering to budgets and making a profit. This is essentially what ROI stands for and what the marketing world is all about. Return on investment means everything; learn to love this term.
3. Strategic thinking
Most journalists are used to having control over their own stories, delivery and time management.
When you get into PR, though, you have to support your clients’ decisions. You can still be the one in the room who challenges; just do it gently.
4. Audience development
The current era of successful journalism requires brand building and audience cultivation.
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Working for niche publications requires skills in targeting specific audiences, and you can convert these skills to PR. Although you’ll have to learn how to use data and analytics, you already understand the importance of tailoring content to a specific audience.
5. Reputation management
When evaluating a story, responsible journalists often ask themselves, “Is it fair, balanced and accurate?”
In PR, you’re in the business of protecting, preserving and enhancing the image of a particular brand, person or organization. This requires seeing the larger picture—something you’ll have to accept and embrace.
Journalists—especially beat reporters—often focus on the context and impact of that day’s stories. A PR pro understands this, too, but can see down the road and anticipate the long-term effects of a campaign or strategy.
Michael Perry is the vice president for content strategy at Vehr Communications. He spent 25 years as a reporter, editor and managing editor. A version of this article originally appeared on Vehr’s website.