Transition graphs: Former journalists' soundbites on the move to PR

What it feels like to go from skeptic to working for the client.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

If former journalists were to craft a headline describing their career change, it might be something like "Tougher than expected."

Sure, there are a lot of transferable skills between the two professions, such as writing, listening, and an understanding of the changing media landscape, but agency life is not a newsroom.

Here are recollections from former journalists about the move to communications.

"It was definitely more [of a transition] than I thought it would be...but I think switching careers, no matter how closely aligned the industries, is always difficult. The top transitional hurdle I had to get over was adjusting to a more corporate workflow. Some projects in PR take a week or even months to complete, where as a journalist you’re often putting out – to put it in a corporate speak – a product every day."
--Dan Kloeffler, VP and media strategist in Ketchum’s New York office and a former anchor at ABC News and NBC News

"I felt like a fish out of water at first. It’s very easy in the beginning to struggle with creative, because as a reporter, you’ve trained your brain to say this is interesting or not and move onto the next idea. In PR, you have to ask yourself if this idea doesn’t work, then what can I do to make it work."
--Jennifer DeNick, Coyne PR SVP and a veteran of the New Jersey Herald

"I would get an email and turn it around in 30 seconds in the newsroom, but with PR you’re better served to take a few minutes, and be more thoughtful about your response and the broader picture."
--Bob McNaney, who had a 20-year career as a TV reporter before joining Padilla in 2012 as SVP.

"It’s like changing the poles on a magnet. Journalists are trained to be skeptical, critical, and never in the pocket or allied with anyone. At an agency, your client comes first – always. Not all journalists can rewire themselves to embrace client love."
--Christopher Graves, president and founder of the Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science and the firm’s former chairman and CEO

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