As a rising sophomore with a transcript that glaringly read “Undecided” across the very top, I realized I still had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I felt overwhelming pressures to pursue a degree grounded in some facet of business despite my underlying passion for writing. Finally, after enduring torturous hours of finance and accounting classes, I took a leap of faith and committed to the pursuit of using the written word to make a difference. After falling in love with a completely different course load than what I’d been accustomed to, I can clearly see many of the blunders that I made — and how I should have acted sooner. But despite immersing myself into my new classes, I still didn’t know what type of writer I wanted to be. I immediately applied for the sports editor position for my university’s newspaper. And while this role enabled me to acquire invaluable experience as a journalist, I came to the realization that if I truly wanted to feel 100% confident in the avenue I would eventually dedicate my life to, I had to experience a writing that I believe generates a greater impact.
I was fortunate to receive a summer internship offer at R&J Strategic Communications, and I accepted the role with virtually no prior knowledge about the industry. I knew R&J masterfully delivers services tailored to support each particular client — with industries ranging from commercial real estate to technology to healthcare agencies — but that was the extent of it. I was and still am the inexperienced apprentice at the bottom of the totem pole. But after just four short weeks of contributing anything I can to the professionals who possess years of experience under their belts, I feel certain that the effective communication strategies enlisted every day at this industry represent the ideal that attracted me to writing in the first place: using written words to influence change.
Despite the blatant differences between the role of a sports editor of a small private institution and that of an intern at a celebrated full service integrated marketing and public relations agency, I have come to recognize glaring similarities between the two.
- Two-way communication with the public
Both journalism and PR positions require professionals to speak to their audiences/clients in a comprehensive, thoughtful way. It’s the driving force in both organizations. But this communication is a two-way street — members of both industries need to actively listen to and accept feedback from their audiences in order to generate the most effective material.
- Foster credibility and trust
An industry that doesn’t possess the trust of its clients or audience will never amount to success. Both positions require a commitment to the truth. The content journalists present in their work has to be fact-checked several times before its publication so as to avoid inaccuracies and subsequent lack of faith from readers. Similarly, PR professionals must develop a relationship founded upon mutual trust with their clients in order to persuade their target audiences to support a particular topic or organization.
- Tell stories in a way that makes a difference
Perhaps the most important similarity, and definitely the most compelling, is the shared passion of both industry types to influence change. Finding and telling a good story that will elicit a response from readers is a fundamental component of writing, regardless of the avenue in which it exists. Individuals pursue a career in writing because they have a hunger for engaging audiences with interesting stories.
My love for journalism will never falter, and I’m grateful for the edge in my writing I derived from having worked for my university’s newspaper. With that being said, the experience I’ve already gained in the limited time I’ve worked under the superior leadership of the professionals at R&J has granted me with confidence that a career in PR will enable me to take my passion for writing to the next level.