A career change into PR

Ever imagine how many people apply for the same job as you? You know you go in and tailor your resume to fit the description and put the effort into making your cover letter apply to the position as well. Imagine that you are applying for a PR job and you find out that you are 1 out of 800 people applying for the same position. There can’t be all 800 PR professionals applying for a job like that, so how can you stand out when applying for this position?

In Valley PR Blog, Len Gutman provides the insight in the post, “D-backs get 800 resumes for PR opening.” The Phoenix Business Journal originally posted the information, however, Gutman is trying to get down to the bottom of the fact that did 800 people apply because it was a “special opportunity” or is it the job market?

I guess what makes me nervous is applying for jobs in general. I don’t really think of the people that are applying as well. The competition is stiff in any industry, and those that have a job now are the ones that are blessed in my opinion. I remember hearing last year from people that the job market will turn around for those that are graduating in December of 2009 or in 2010. I don’t believe that these days with so many people applying for jobs or people I know making career changes, like journalists.

I remember working at The Arizona Republic last year and someone I know was scared he was going to be laid off and seemed to consider entering the PR world. He is a journalist. We all know how certain journalism majors see our jobs, since we have discussed that in class. So do they really think they can do PR because they have worked with PR for a news release?

I decided to not only look up Gutman’s blog, but decided to google “journalist entering PR world” since newspapers are disappearing and layoffs were in full affect last year, and possibly still going on, although they have settled down.

What I found was interesting. I found one blog, Catching Flack, by Jon Greer where the sub headline is “smart ways to win the public relations game.” In one blog entry, “Turning Journalists into PR People,” he gives his advice on entering the PR world from starting out as a journalists, since he was once a journalist. He does list some valid points, however his advice for journalists if they make the career switch is to make “the effort to learn about the intricacies of marketing.” Hmm. . .well we’re told that marketing has nothing really to do with PR, and that marketing and PR are two different things, so is he mistaken as well?

I know that most PR majors that I know personally have stuck with PR after they graduate and never switched because they enjoy doing it. I know that is a general statement and that not every PR major does stick with PR, however what I am saying is that we aren’t likely to cross over to the print world.

I can’t bash journalists for wanting to come over to the world of PR when they are laid off, however, it makes competition much more harder knowing that someone may take a chance on a journalist who seems to have some knowledge of PR. I am just worried as a graduating senior that finding a job is going to be 10 times harder because of that factor as well as the economy.

In a section of Mmegi Online, a somewhat daily news site, I found an opinion letter that was discussing this exact topic, a journalist crossing over to PR. Charles Gaborone writes in his article “the New Threat to PR”, “speaking informally to some of these ex-journalists who turned to the world of PR and asking them why they make the switch from being the person asking the questions to the one who has to dodge the questions. The common explanation given for the migration is money.” To be honest, I figured that had to be the number one reason most people decide to work in PR. I had a passion for writing, but quickly learned that PR was where I was going to make money and so I switched emphasis. I know that I do like some aspects of PR, and realize my calling was never print.  I know that if I go into PR it’s because I know that I like it and it’s not just a paycheck.

Most of us know that PR is something that we will love for a long time and not get bored or have the risk of being laid off because it’s growing and changing.  So I guess the question that I am asking is how does it make you feel that journalists entering the PR world or anyone  that aren’t knowledgeable in PR or the sports world, but know social media, like for the Dbacks position? Do you know someone that has made a career change from a journalist to a PR practitioner? If not, how does it make you feel about 800 people applying for one job in the PR world? Does that make you nervous? How do you think you can stand out among them besides the fact that you had an internship or majored in PR?

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7 Responses to A career change into PR

  1. bgansar says:

    Wow I cannot believe that that man wrote a post on how to turn yourself into a PR professional from being a Journalist. At least we can say that we were trained through a Journalism program so we had experience in the news writing part before we learned our skills in PR. We will stand out because of our internship experiences, our laborious curriculum and proving that our writing skills are just as good as any journalists, and we have the knowledge of tools to use in the PR world. You cannot let the numbers frighten you, let them inspire you to stick out with a great personality, a plethora of knowledge and a resume that kicks butt!

  2. ncano says:

    Brittany, I think for most of us we can say our resume is great, but not all of us have been lucky to do an actual PR internship. So yes, I think your resume could provide help into standing out among the crowd, but you’re right, you have to make a great impression via an interview if you can score one in order to display your personality. I couldn’t believe that there was a post about turning yourself in to a PR professional either. I was shocked and I can only guess that a lot of people have seen that just by searches on the internet. I just hope they have common knowledge to not actually follow it, but he’s not wrong in everything he wrote, just a little off.

  3. glindsay says:

    I think what helps me rest easy at night is the fact that we are so far ahead of our peers in other journalism-type majors. We are getting first hand experience on working with clients, planning campaigns and all the fine print in between. Where our print and broadcast peers probably (or at least hopefully) have talents in writing or producing content, many of us have that same experience since we need to take those classes, too. I think we just need to make sure to differentiate ourselves in job interviews and show that we know what PR is really all about.

  4. wwillis says:

    I think we can all attest to the fact that Public Relations is SO different from Print Journalism. We have all taken in-depth PR classes as well as journalism courses. There is no easy way to switch over from journalism to PR. More and more journalists may be realizing that PR professionals are ahead of the game. We’re moving fluidly with the times and keeping up with new technology. I agree with Greg, differentiating ourselves from other journalists as PR pros will definitely set us apart from the rest.

  5. ncano says:

    Greg – so when the question arises, what is PR? You’ll know exactly what to say? At least I hope you will. I have to say that I appreciate that I had to take some print classes, because I know exactly what a journalist will ask for when the time comes when I am a PR professional. I also appreciate that some print majors have decided to expand their knowledge and take JMC 310 to learn the basics of PR. I agree. That we are well diverse in our background and can only play that up to our best abilities in a job interview.

    Whitney – Sometimes, or many times I feel like we are over looked in the Cronkite school and that we aren’t taken seriously. We understand what print and broadcast does because in some way our courses we take have a mix of their materials they are studying for their profession, but where is the PR in their courses? We move well with the times, you are correct, however, I just hope employers are the ones that see that we are able to function when technology changes and sometimes better than those people with backgrounds in print or broadcast. No one ever wants to be overlooked when applying for a job.

  6. n_applegate says:

    This post definitely made me nervous. I myself am graduating in May and it scares me that we have to compete for jobs between so many people that are A) Laid off, B) Still unemployed after graduation in 2009, and now C) People transferring jobs from journalism to PR. The thing that scares me is that same point you made about journalist being hired because their employer wants to take a “stab” at them with their “background knowledge” of PR. Even though we all know that PR is so different from journalism who is to say that an employer looking through 800 applications knows the major differences?

  7. cgharai says:

    I am currently in the job-search stage, as my academic career comes to a close this December. I have to agree, the market is competitive and stiff. Given my specific interests in PR, conglomerates like Time Inc. and Conde Nast have close numerous publications this term along with laying of hundreds of staff members. I heard this past week from a source at Cooking Light Magazine, Time Inc. laid of 600 people in two days! The job market will turn around, it has too. It sucks for us, those with minimal work experience because due to the dramatic cuts in the industry, overqualified people are settling for lower-paying positions. They are taking our entry level opportunities! I agree, the current economic conditions are not making it easy for us.

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