Journalism v PR what's the difference?

If content creation is the cornerstone of any PR campaign shouldn't all PR agencies be stuffed with journalists? Not necessarily. The disciplines are complementary but not the same and the two groups often do not see eye-to-eye.  

We have first-hand experience of this potential area of conflict as we employ journalists: some of them go on to be dyed-in-the-wool PR professionals and others maintain their journalistic independence. It can make for some lively exchanges of view. 

So what is the difference? The key skills of the journalist: sublime writing, an enthusiasm for research and investigation and the ability to report a story are all required, of course. But for the PR writer there is the additional skill of advocacy. Our content is designed to describe our clients' arguments in the most persuasive way possible. It's not our job to decide whether they have the best product or the highest level of expertise - it is our job to make their case. And that means being able to spot the story. 

Sometimes it's obvious: an entirely new PV solution or a fantastic new building project. Mostly it's not. It's about identifying the relevance of wider issues to our clients and positioning the brand in response. The first question a journalist asks is: "What's the story?" The first question a PR advocate asks is: "What message do you want to communicate and to whom?" 

A new British Standard, a change in VAT law on insulation, a perceived shortage of skilled workers. Our job is to make the connections and point out to the audience how our client's services fit a changing agenda.

Posted by Anna Hern