My name is Dan G., and I’m a recovering journalist.
I spent the first half of my career working in local television news, seeking the high that comes from landing a big exclusive or hitting a home run during a breaking story. I started as a lowly intern and after paying my dues I was overseeing day-to-day coverage as an Executive Producer at a station where ratings were growing off the charts.
I’d won awards and my cell phone rang from time-to-time with requests to interview for bigger and better jobs. Life was good on the surface but deep down the polish had worn off and TV just wasn’t satisfying. It was harder and harder to find that adrenaline rush I desperately craved. At some point, I stopped loving my job.
Former TV colleagues always have the same two questions when we talk about my transition to PR. The first is “Weren’t you afraid you would miss ‘it’?” The ‘it’ is the thrill – and rush – of breaking news. Yes, I was. The immediate follow-up question is usually “But the Dark Side?? Really?! I could never do that to myself.”
Au contraire – if you only knew the power of the Dark Side you would embrace it just as I have. You would throw off the shackles of unrealistic deadlines and leave behind your misguided sense of public duty that usually results in an assignment to stand in a hurricane. Here are three reasons journalists should embrace a career in PR.
1. The Dark Side is the enlightened side. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t provide critical counsel and important advice to one of my clients. Sometimes it comes during a crisis. Other times, it may have nothing to do with PR. They don’t always listen but the truth of the matter is PR people are some of the smartest, and wisest, I’ve ever worked with. I’ve become smarter, too.
2. We do kick-ass work. I thought TV afforded me the opportunity to be a creative storyteller to a mass audience. Then, I started working in PR. From video to graphic design, Matter Communications provides every toy imaginable to get creative. We can turn a compelling project on a tight schedule, but the urgency of being first regardless of accuracy or quality has been replaced with the mission to be the best.
3. We play hard. PR pros work hard, but we also play hard. We have the occasional 12 hour day and write a lot of plans. We deal with rejection more than I care to think about. But we also have awesome company outings, travel to vacation destinations you may otherwise never visit in the name of client expos and conferences, and at the very least there is usually wine at office lunch gatherings.
What do you say, journalists? Have I changed your opinion of the Dark Side even the slightest?
Truth be told, I still miss making the news sometimes. Specifically, I miss the idea of my words being read live on the air to tens of thousands of viewers. I’ve come to grips with this though and I’ve even developed a system for dealing with it. When I get into this funk, I just wait for a big client announcement then I flip on the set. More often than not, I’ll hear my press release, being read word-for-word, live on the air. Isn’t that right, Conan?