Before joining Sinclair as Communications Director, I spent nearly two years as a reporter at a daily newspaper.
What have I learned? The two worlds aren’t all that different.
Telling a Story
Both journalism and public affairs are all about one thing – telling compelling stories. The main difference is that consulting firms like ourselves work for clients, while reporters and the media write for their outlet and audience.
As a journalist, I had a duty to deliver the news to my audience. My stories were meant to be objective and present the facts, so residents had an idea of what was happening around them.
At Sinclair, we work diligently to tell the story of our clients to help them accomplish a larger goal – whether it’s establishing a brand, managing an issue or dealing with a crisis. Much like a reporter works with sources, we walk through the process with our client to ensure we capture the story in the way they want it to be told.
Time is Vital
In both professions, time is of the essence. Reporters work on strict deadlines to publish important stories, and not a second can be wasted.
This is the same for public affairs. A client has a goal, and this goal is usually accompanied by a timeline. We are beholden to the client to carry out a plan in a timely manner. Failure to do so could have serious consequences for the success of a campaign.
At Sinclair, our team is nimble and accustomed to working on a tight schedule. We know issues can move quickly, and have experience getting results in a short amount of time.
For reporters, stories don’t fall out of thin air. PR professionals are a vital source in providing information and potential stories to media outlets. In this respect, the two fields work hand in hand, benefitting one another.
When I worked in news, I had stories pitched to me through phone calls, emails and press releases. I worked with PR professionals to report news my readers would find relevant and interesting. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to write a complete story and uphold my duty to the readership.
Reporters need help, but public relations officers can’t tell a story if they don’t have a medium. Sure, newspapers and online news outlets aren’t the only place to tell a story. We can push messages through social media, digital ads, and direct mail. But media attention is important for our clients’ success – a story can be a critical step in executing the overall plan.
Plan, Plan, Plan
As a journalist, before I started on a story, I created a plan that included: what I needed to cover, who I needed to talk to, and when I needed to have interviews and complete the article. Having a plan made a daunting story easier by streamlining the process.
The same goes for public affairs. No campaign will succeed without a good plan. This starts with meetings with the client, much like stories started with meetings with my editor. We talk with clients, find out what they want to accomplish, and work on a plan that can best reach that goal.
Once the plan is established, we start working and don’t stop until the job is done. But we take time to analyze the work and revise our plan if needed. We have the ability to track the amount of coverage you’re receiving and who that attention is coming from, and to perform sentiment analysis to determine the media and public view of your company or organization. Based on this information, we can determine how to effectively move forward with a story or campaign.
The same goes for journalism. There is constant editing of stories, and the whole path of a story can change if there’s new information or the editor has different thoughts.
While both fields include planning, they also involve adapting to the situation.
What We Do
At Sinclair, we understand the vital role journalism plays in today’s world. With a 24/7 news cycle, it’s more important than ever to make sure you stay in the media, and in turn, stay in control of your story.
In working with a client, we create detailed and comprehensive plans, all of which include a media relations aspect. The media help us tell your story more effectively by increasing the audience. Once a story is published, we can push that through the client’s own mediums as well.
For decades, we’ve created working relationships with media to ensure stories are told and campaigns are successful. We need reporters and they need us as a source – this creates a mutually beneficial relationship.
Though sometimes pitted against one another, public relations and journalism are always intertwined and feed off of one another.