As a journalism student at Messiah College, all of my classes and work experiences have been very journalism-centered. I’ve had little exposure to public relations until my internship at Bravo Group. While PR and journalism are both housed under the college’s communications department, the courses and projects are kept separate – which I realize now is limiting because there is a lot students can learn from how both fields interact with each other.
As an intern with Bravo’s publishing group, I have completed many new tasks such as writing a press release, compiling a media list, formatting a media advisory and more. At Bravo I’ve also learned – beyond practical skills – that journalism and public relations go hand-in-hand more than I ever would have imagined.
To gain a little more perspective about how these two industries intersect, I spoke with Sean Connolly, one of Bravo’s senior directors and Jeanette Krebs, managing editor of Bravo Group’s Content Creation Group, who are both former journalists that have transitioned into PR professionals.They shared stories from their careers and gave advice about how to transition between the two and how to approach my job search in this challenging field.
Public Relations vs. Journalism
Before speaking with Jeanette and Sean, I viewed journalism and PR as two separate industries because I believed they had their own functions. In fact, certain functions in both industries reminded me of someone trying to put a square peg in a round hole and then realizing it does not fit. But, as both Sean and Jeanette explained, when it comes down to it the two industries overlap in many ways.
For example, the needs of journalists and PR professionals center around communicating a message to an audience. Journalists seek sources and leads for their stories and can turn to PR professionals who are looking for journalists to share their client’s stories. PR professionals and journalists may want to accomplish different goals, as Sean explained, but they can both use their resources to help the other succeed.
According to Sean, a major difference between PR and journalistic writing is the mindset of the writer. Journalists strive to share news and information with the public, whereas PR professionals use writing to persuade, promote and influence others. PR professionals use their client’s message and information found in the news to accomplish their goals but from a different perspective. PR professionals represent their clients’ interests while journalists inform and share information with the general public in a non-biased way by representing both sides of an issue.
During my talk with Jeanette and Sean, I also learned why it’s important to stay up-to-date with industry changes in both journalism and PR. Sean and Jeanette have studied and worked in the journalism field for many years. During that time, they also remained aware of changes in the industry and new opportunities that arose, which eventually led them both to Bravo Group.
For Jeanette,she said working in journalism and PR has allowed her to have new and different experiences.
“What I loved about working in journalism was hearing people’s stories, being engaged and always doing something new. I was writing about different things each day,” Jeanette said. “I find the same thing here at Bravo working with so many different clients who have their own needs.”
I’m a soon-to-be graduate who fell in love with journalism years before I even reached college. But, after speaking with Sean and Jeanette, I received a much-needed reminder that my skills and interests can be used in more than one writing field. I don’t have to lock myself into a career trajectory the minute I step off that graduation stage and find my first job – being open to what the world has to offer could lead me to entirely new places.
The same can be true of any career path – no matter what you’ve grown up dreaming of doing, keep your mind open to unexpected opportunities along the way, because you truly never know what’s ahead.
Rose Talbot, Harrisburg intern