Leaving journalism and joining the ‘dark side’ of communications… PR

Here at MK, we recently invited University of Sheffield Journalism student William Bond in for a period of work experience. Many journalism graduates face the difficult task of choosing between a career in PR or Journalism and here’s the advice that Will would like to share with those faced with making the decision:  

PR can certainly have something of a stigma at times – the idea that PRs are like a big group of agents tasked with spinning stories, crafting crisis and influencing the influencers all paints a misleading picture of the public relations profession, at the most extreme end of the scale.

This reputation may seem disparaging for any student looking to kick start a career within it. But, for me, it hasn’t – and it shouldn’t for you, either!

After a couple of weeks spent at MK – writing press releases, ringing up journalists and thinking up what would be the best thing to post on a client’s Twitter next Thursday afternoon – you come to realise that there’s nothing dubious about it.

And, as I stand mere months away from completing my three-year journalism course at the University of Sheffield, I’m faced with an imminent, inevitable truth that I must leave the comfort of my department common room and… well… find a job.

In the face of this fact, the most obvious choice would be to join the local paper, radio station, magazine or whatever other media outlet might most generously accept my CV and covering letter; however, whilst I’ve enjoyed my course and continue to enjoy writing stories, it’s actually PR which has increasingly drawn my attention – and my time at MK has confirmed for me that this is the direction I want to go.

Stepping away from journalism and into PR often feels like joining the ‘dark side’ of communications, but PR isn’t about that.

Representing the client is vital to the success of any PR agency, of course, but when providing honest, useful information to the media, the role of a PR extends beyond business and towards assisting journalists and the public – providing insight, comments and news that all parties can benefit from. In this respect, whilst I may be steering away from a career in journalism, the centuries-old journalistic responsibility to serve the public interest is not lost, but simply adjusted.

Having had the pleasure of undertaking work experience with the excellent team here at MK, I can assure any student worried about the morality (or, rather, immorality) of stepping into a PR agency that this stigma is far from accurate!