Can hacks hack it?

An interesting article appeared in PR Week recently looking at how an increasing number of journalists are moving over to the ‘dark side’ of public relations

The bad news for journalists is that according to the MD of recruitment consultancy JFL: “Journalism is changing a lot….as many people are losing their jobs.” Personally I think this has been a trend since the dotcom crash in the late nineties, when advertising spend plummeted and editorial staff numbers shrank. We have never returned to the heady days of a huge editorial team.

The recent economic bust-up has indeed also made things even worse for my friends and colleagues in the publishing industry. That’s why things such as face-to-face briefings, lunches and phone interviews are becoming rarer, and why emailed sound bites cut and pasted into an editorial feature are the norm. Journalists (like other human beings) only have one pair of hands and when the editor is expected to do much of what a team of five would previously have done, so they’ve had to change the way that they do business.

The good news for us PRs is that apparently career prospects in public relations are improving. Also, standards have risen while, according to the MD of Edwards Harvey PR, the media have ‘dumbed down’. I’m not sure that journalists have dumbed down, I just think they’ve had to change their approach because of the demands put upon them by a reduced editorial team and the inability to evolve into a investigative and copyrighting octopus!

But beware my journalistic chums, as the person that runs the NCTJ’s ‘journalist-to-PR’ course reckons that not every journalist can hack it as a PR professional. Apparently, what we do is multi-faceted – like we PRs didn’t know that. We (or most of us) on the ‘dark side’ have mastered the art of performing octopus-like stunts while spinning multiple plates. Some days when it’s my head spinning I wish that I hadn’t mastered those particular skills!

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