When declaring a major in college, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the different routes that a student interested in media could take. Is it advertising? Is it news writing and editing? How about marketing? Public relations? Broadcast journalism?
As an incoming freshman, or even sophomore, making this one decision that filters your entire future career path can seem like a big decision. The good news is, all of these fields and specializations are very closely related. Even if you are a second-semester senior graduating with a degree in journalism, you, too, can land a PR fellowship in New York City and watch your career blossom in front of you.
The first profession that comes to mind when you think of media is usually journalism or TV broadcasters. Once you really dive into the media industry, though, it becomes clear that these roles are truly such a small part of the millions of people working in media across the world.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of media and communication occupations is projected to grow 4% from 2018 to 2028 – about as fast as all occupations, which will result in around 27,600 new jobs. This is great news, as the media industry is often referred to as a “dying art.” Rejoice, fellow journalism school students! Like me, you can still find a meaningful career even if you decide writing the news is not for you.
As a journalism major, you tour the offices of a fashion publication where you thought you’d live out your Carrie Bradshaw or Andy Sachs dreams only to learn fashion journalism is nothing like what the movies make it out to be. There are no bustling assistants zooming past you with clothing racks overflowing with designer garments, no models or celebrities parading around the office – because that is exactly what it is, an office.
Chic? Yes. Quiet? Yes. The allure was lost.
I looked to contacts in the industry to provide direction on an outlet that would tap into my creativity and wordsmithing talents, while also working with companies, brands and celebrities, and attending events. What was the perfect answer to mixing my love of lifestyle and entertainment culture with a journalism background? Consumer public relations.
While consumer PR is just one facet of the PR industry as a whole, it is one that I have found is a perfect fit. It allows for creativity and strategy, while also crafting the perfect email to pitch an editor and feel that sense of satisfaction when the story runs.
One thing that surprised me most about a career in PR is that there is still a good amount of writing to be done. Whether it be a press release, a thought leadership byline for a client, or a blog post for your own agency (just like this one), your journalism degree will not go to waste. Along with that, your extensive knowledge of AP style will be tested and put to use on a daily basis. It’s even important when communicating with clients so they understand that we are experts in our field. Using correct AP style, even in emails, fosters that expertise.
A struggle that I am still accepting is that not every journalist is going to care about your client or their product every time, even if nothing similar is on the market. There have been many times where I thought a pitch was going to garner numerous media hits and my inbox would be overflowing with interest. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Even if you know your client is the best and most important in their area of business, it does not mean every writer will, too, and that’s okay! As PR pros, we are the biggest advocates for our clients, and it’s our job to find the exact right writer who cares just as much as we do.
Another struggle that comes along with PR is that it’s harder to secure interest on an evergreen topic without a timely hook or celebrity tie. With the integration of digital, the news cycle is neverending, and there is always something even more timely and newsworthy competing with you.
Is there a better feeling than getting your first piece of interest with a national consumer outlet or a target outlet for your client? I can’t think of one in the professional world. There is nothing like opening an email to find, “Yes, I would like to try that product,” or “Yes, I would like to speak with that contact.”
Maybe there is one thing better than getting interest: Getting coverage. Seeing a story go live online, in print, or on TV is the most rewarding part of the process. Delivering quality coverage for your client makes all the work worth it.
If you’re interested in a career in PR and think Dittoe might be a fit for you, we accept applications on a rolling basis. Learn more here.