Hey, reporters, we have a few things in common

By Erik Arvidson

A few years ago when I was a reporter snooping around Boston covering the political beat and thinking about crossing over and starting a career in PR, a few nagging concerns were holding me back. I really had no idea what PR people did day to day, except for what a few colleagues who had made the same move told me. Would my skills and experience translate?

Fast forward to today, as I’m about to hit my four-month mark at Matter, having also been the in-house PR guy for a Boston telecom company for two-plus years, I’m happy to say it is what I’d hoped for.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems PR people and journalists have in common.

A few examples:

  • Solid writing: Our team at Matter is fanatical about combing through every piece of communication for AP style consistency, brevity, eliminating jargon, etc. Good writing is no less an essential quality of PR people than it is of journalists. To use a baseball analogy, this is like a shortstop needing to be handy with the glove;
  • Thriving on deadlines and competitive pressures: Our team has a fear of missing deadlines for anything client-related similar to Superman’s mortal dread of Kryptonite, and we feel there should be something like a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing our clients are covered in every industry roundup;
  • Committed to research: Our team is always looking for scraps of information, trends and editorial changes in focus to take advantage of, wrap into compelling pitches, and leverage to position our clients as insightful thought leaders;
  • Passionate about news: If there was one thing I hated as a reporter it was the stale, lame pitch. Happy to say everyone here at Matter knows their pubs inside and out – from the deepest drilling trades to the mainstream consumer mags.

And switching from impartial reporter to PR person turned out to be the easy part. As PR practitioners, we need to look at our clients and their competitive markets objectively. Our clients don’t come to us because they like to hear what they say echoed back to them. In addition to being their best champion, they need rational counsel from us to help tackle their business challenges.

So to my friends in journalism, I say, “We’re more like you than you think.” (Insert evil-sounding chuckle).