PR NEWS EXPANDED
I have been a part of ‘The Hippest Trip in America’ for over 4 years now. Recently, Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks acquired Soul Train and my ride in showing the world what to listen to, what to wear, and what was happening in pop culture has come to an end.
While I am excited to observe how BET flourishes the Soul Train brand, I am sad that my Content Ninja days at SoulTrain.com are over. My train ride was full of great experiences, where I got to pick the brains of industry professionals, discuss current events with pop culture innovators and interject my voice into the loud environment of social chatter. The journey helped me polish my skill set and develop an appreciation for storytelling. While journalism and public relations go hand-in-hand, I was given great insight into the overall communications industry by being employed in both fields.
Here are a few key takeaways :
Pitching is a key tool in both public relations and journalism. As a journalist, you have to effectively communicate story ideas to editors and reach out to story targets (or their managers/publicist) for interviews or commenting. As a publicist, it is necessary to reach out to journalist to convey client messaging or to add comment/interview to stories. Basically, journalist and publicist can be partners in crime. Journalist should always be given key details ( who, what, where, when, how) when pitched. Publicist should always concern themselves with being sure that journalist have the necessary information to produce content. However, the delicate balance is that in public relations we love to over share and journalist want the information quick and to the point. As a writer, I hated receiving pitches that were 2 sentences or 10 paragraphs. Your pitch should not be the length of a text message but should not be a short story novel either.
There is no happy medium here but noteworthy to mention. How you communicate with journalist and publicist can be tricky. Each one of us can be found on platforms in which we do not want to be reached. As a publicist, I love connecting on social media and via email. As a journalist, for years, I wished people would stop instant messaging, DMing, and tagging me to their music, as if I were an A&R Executive. There are journalist who hate phone calls, voicemail, connecting on social media and probably everything else. As a publicist, I hated text messages from strangers. I hate being the jerk who responds, “Who is this?”, but I get it from both perspectives. Which is why, it is most important, once contact is made with a journalist or publicist, to ask them their preferred method on communication.
As a publicist, your goal is to ensure that our clients (or spokesperson) can effectively articulate key messaging. We make sure that there is something for journalist to write about when they talk about our brands and that the facts are clear. As a journalist, it is agonizing to host an interview or request commenting from someone who answers all of your question with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, and cannot elaborate or peak our interest in their topic.
This takeaway is pretty much for all humans looking to have a conversation. Both journalism and public relations are built on the foundation of conversation. Know the right questions to ask and know when to change the subject.