5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Reporter to PR

I used to hate PR (public relations) people when I worked on the newspaper. And really, I still kinda cringe when someone calls me a PR professional.

“I’m in media relations,” I always correct them.

I don’t spin. I don’t twist. I just educate the public the best I can for a company. Would I love to pound the pavement again as a journalist seeking the truth, living the edgy life? Yea, I dream about it. I’m not gonna lie.

BUT … I will say that I’ve learned several lessons on my road from reporter to “media relations.” And if I ever make it back, I’ll definitely apply them!

So, here are my top five takeaways I’d like to share—whether you’re a writer, reporter, or PR hack:

1) Not all journalists are honest, or accurate.

Trust me, this was a HUGE surprise to me. And quite honestly … a blow. My job on the newspaper was my first out of college, and I truly believed that every journalist was ethical—like me. But after working on the PR side, I realized that some reporters don’t care about the truth; they only care about their angle. Whether from laziness or an agenda, I’ve witnessed journalists report blatantly false information. Lesson? Don’t believe everything you read, always research the facts yourself, and treat ethical journalists like royalty.  

2) Understanding media strategy or content marketing can HELP writers or reporters, not hurt them.

Not to brag, but I believe I’m the perfect example of this. As a reporter, I’d slap you if you mentioned the word “blog” to me. However, after entering the world of media strategy, I started this blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Now, I have a readership … and I haven’t even published a book yet! Lesson? Any reporter who can build an ENGAGED following will more efficiently distribute the news … so don’t run from the concept of content marketing.

3) Multi-media and diverse writing is now a requirement, for anything.

I left journalism right as the newspapers began to collapse in December 2007. I began my new job in PR at the start of 2008, allowing me to witness the media world’s transition from the outside. I used this time to develop my skills in writing for the Web, social media, blogs, magazines, newspapers, e-newsletters, business, and to persuade. No longer can I find a writing job that merely asks for experience in print. Lesson? The more you understand multi-media–as well as writing for different audiences—the better chance you have of landing a job!

4) Learning to pitch well isn’t only for PR people. Freelance journalists need it for editors, and writers need it for literary agents.

I’ve been able to help creative writer friends perfect their query letters to literary agents. And I’ve advised journalists on pitching a solid story to a magazine editor (and landed freelance gigs myself). Why? Because I’ve become an expert in pitching. Understanding “the tease” has become a vital skill in anything media-related today. Lesson? Don’t think of pitching as selling out; instead, embrace what you can learn, and use it to your advantage!

5) The basics ALWAYS apply.

Bottom line, I still attribute information to its sources, even when writing for a company. My leads are always 30 words or less. And I always keep my readers in mind; the goal is still to inform them, regardless of the outlet. Lesson? The basics are taught for a reason. THEY WORK. So … never forget them.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you agree with my observations? Have you witnessed something contrary, or additional? Discuss …

Content Marketing: What You DIDN’T Know

It’s not just for companies. It’s not just for marketers. Content marketing can be applied to anyone or anything seeking exposure:

  • Authors/writers
  • Business owners
  • Non-profits
  • Newsrooms
  • You name it!

And, content marketing is a GREAT way to increase your audience. Writers, use it to develop a loyal readership. Business owners, use it to create customers. Editors or journalists, use it to increase the number of people reading your articles.

What is content marketing?

For those of you new to the world of marketing, here’s a brief explanation. Content marketing is … marketing your content to as many people as possible.

Content can be blog posts, videos, podcasts … anything YOU produce for people to read or view. e-Newsletters, magazine articles, and even the words on your website.

When you produce content, you want to market it through every channel available.

Here’s the key to content marketing

You want to get the most exposure out of each piece of content.  This means you’ll work smarter, not harder.

So, how do you market content, successfully?

Here’s my philosophy: Every business or entity should treat its website and accompanying social media pages, as a news outlet.

Running a law firm? Your content should relate to updates on the law you practice. A writer (like me)? What’s the latest on the publishing world and the hottest writing tips?

Adding on to that, if you want to market your content successfully, follow these tips:

  1. Get organized and plan. If you know what you’ll write next week, and the week after, you can plan where and HOW to market it.
  2. Consider posting less, but instead distributing your content to more places.
  3. Dedicate time to building a following on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin. Engage with your followers.
  4. DO NOT set your website or blog to automatically post published content to social media channels. Craft witty or interesting messages to accompany your posts, and publish at a time when you receive the most response. (TIP: Use Hootsuite to schedule individualized posts ahead of time).
  5. Have any affiliates or partners (including blogging buddies)? Ask if they’d consider promoting some of your content on THEIR channels, if you routinely emailed links of your newly published work. If they accept, pump up your promotion of their content, as a thank-you. 
  6. Use the “bit.ly” tool to shorten your links before sending to your partners and posting on social media. Bit.ly tracks the number of click-throughs and will allow you to see which posts get the most traction (TIP: The topics with the most traction show what interests your readers. Write more about those topics).
  7. Submit some content to popular professional development sites, such as Pro Blogger. If they accept your post, market that same content to your channels. You’ll get double the readership!
  8. Aim for quality, not quantity. Bottom line: no one will share your content if it’s badly written or offers poor advice.

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