People often ask me if since moving into the world of PR I miss working ‘on the other side’ as a newspaper journalist. You can’t beat the adrenalin rush of a major human story unfolding against tight deadlines, the satisfaction of your name above a story on page one or the joy of fitting a clever headline into the allotted space.
In essence, news writing is a recording of history, reporting on events that have occurred, often uncovering information about people who would prefer not to be the subject of a story. Now I have the greatest respect for the work that journalists do each day to report on every imaginable aspect of our existence, but the inescapable fact is: the plane has crashed.
By contrast, in PR we set out to shape history. To continue the aircraft analogy, we engineer the crash and how the news of it will spread. Tomorrow’s news today, if you like. For me, working from the conception of the news cycle like this is even more exciting than the buzz of a big newsroom.
Take a simple product launch, for example. First you have to understand the new product and believe in it. Then you have to launch it with creativity and credibility. Finally you have to present it to the media so that it’s instantly recognised as a good story: that means using years of news experience to exploit worthwhile angles, without over-egging the media release.
So there is a lot of satisfaction to be had from working through the processes to ensure a client’s message gets a good share of media space or time – especially as it also involves news writing … and the opportunity to have fun with headlines!
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.