The relationship between journalist and PR officer is one of the most valuable – but often one of the most difficult – to foster and maintain in the media world. But there are often valuable lessons to be learnt from understanding the tensions on both sides.
PRWeek decided to let its deputy features editor Kate Magee find out what these could be, by setting up a job swap with Bite Communications‘ account executive Mat Gazeley. They would spend a week in each others shoes, documenting their experiences and hopefully learn a trick or two for dealing with the “other side” in the future.
Speaking to Journalism.co.uk after the swap, PRWeek’s Kate – now safely back in the world of journalism – said life on “the dark side” was not such a far cry from the newsroom as people may think.
There were actually more similarities than I had expected. Throwing around ideas in a brainstorming session was my favourite part of the job. I found it similar to my role as a journalist; working out what is interesting about a topic and translating this into something that will engage an audience. The work was also a far more collaborative process than journalism, with team members reporting back on which calls they’d made and even what was said. In my role, I am quite independent, coming up with ideas and being able to run with them myself. As a journalist there is also a far greater individual pressure to hit deadlines. The blank print page or online space is waiting, and you have to fill it. As a PR, it felt like more of a group effort.
But for journalist Kate, the pride of a byline still draws her back to the day-job.
I won’t change my approach dramatically, but I will have greater empathy for a PR trying to find out whether a story will be used or not. But certainly for now, I still want my own name, not my client’s name, at the top of an article.