The thought occurred to me after reading a blog by Debra Caruso, a former journalist who now runs her own PR firm.
Caruso lists the following reasons why journalism majors and former journalists make the best PR pros:
- They have a nose for news.
- They craft press releases and other copy that is more clear, compelling and accurate.
- They understand a journalist's life, know when to pitch or not pitch and will score more placements as a result.
- Former journalists know how to follow a reporter, understand her needs and can help her put together a piece to sell to the editor.
That's good stuff. But, there's far more to it than that. I majored in journalism and had the good fortune to work as a newsclerk at The New York Times, a reporter at WGCH in Greenwich, Ct., and as a newswriter at CBS Radio in Boston. The jobs were part of my five-year co-op curriculum at Northeastern University.
So, at the tender age of 19, I rubbed shoulders with some of the greatest journalists of their generation at the Times. At 20 years of age, I was a sports and news personality who was on-the-air five times a day and hosted an hour-long monthly talk show. And, at the relatively advanced age of 21, I was writing copy for breaking news stories that was then read live by top CBS anchors.
I lived, ate and breathed journalism 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I understood what made news and what didn't. I mastered the art of meeting constant deadlines. And I was provided an invaluable sneak peek into a newsroom's quirks, eccentricities and demands.
So, when I washed up on the shores of Hill & Knowlton as a 22-year-old junior account executive, I knew exactly how to pitch stories and deliver results.
Today's PR graduates do just fine when they hit the agency or corporate worlds. But, there's no substitute for majoring in journalism or working in a newsroom. Both provide an intrinsic understanding of news and newspeople that no PR undergraduate or graduate degree can match.
A journalism pedigree also assures fewer typos, better writing and less reliance on mass e-mails to pitch a story. And, trust me, that's something every senior manager in a PR firm can appreciate.