What You Need to Work in Journalism

Shorthand web1

A while ago someone tweeted that he was about to give a talk to journalism students and asked for suggestions for three character traits required to succeed as a journalist.

Though some were made in jest, the responses he got back provided an interesting insight into what it takes to succeed in a rapidly changing industry.

The thread was interesting to us since everyone who manages client accounts at Shooting Star PR began their career on the other side of the fence as a journalist.

So what are the characteristics required? And how can they be transferred to the world of PR? Here’s my top three:

Persistence: this was the most requested trait in one guise or another. Perseverance, tenacity, call it what you will – if you’re not prepared to stick at it and leave no stone unturned in pursuit of a story, then you’re not cut out to be a reporter.

Curiosity: in journalism as in PR employers look for people with an enquiring mind. Yes, you have to read the paper, listen to the news or gets your news fix online – not because that’s what your tutor tells you to do but because you can’t get through the day without knowing what’s going on in the world around you.

Resourcefulness: you won’t make yourself popular in newsrooms if you can’t find a phone number, locate a contact or work out a way of extracting a comment from an interviewee. As a journalist you rely on your wits to get the job done, and to a large extent the same is true in PR.

Students often ask us if it’s easy to make the transition from journalism to PR. We tell them that if they learn the skills required of journalists then they have probably got what it takes to succeed in PR. However, there are some other, softer skills required too: managing clients’ expectations; advising clients honestly without upsetting them; achieving the delicate balance between looking after clients on one hand and dealing with journalists on the other.

If you’ve got the skills required to be a journalist you’re not the finished article, but you’ve taken a big step in the right direction. JA