It takes quality content to break through the noise and build awareness among qualified prospects, not to mention feed ever-hungry social media channels. A stable of in-house journalists can increase the rate and quality of content production and help PR strategists to get the right stories to the right places—a major boon for organizations of all stripes.
Integrating journalists into PR agencies and corporate communications teams can create complexities. Journalists often hit a wall dealing with an agency's roster of clients and with a corporation's intense focus on brand messaging. Conversely, veteran PR practitioners are often surprised by journalists’ steadfast neutrality and spare collaborative and budgeting experience.
This is all the more reason for both brands and agencies to carefully plan their onboarding and training when bringing journalists into the fold. Here are some insights on integrating journalists into your PR team, courtesy of Barbara Bates, CEO and founder of Eastwick:
- Be realistic. The move from journalism to in-house is huge. Journalists are trained in research, objectivity and critical thought. They tend to work solo on projects, interacting only with an editor.
- Manage the business. The only reason to bring a journalist on board is to bring meaningful value to your clients or to your brand. To add that value, you need to make your journalist billable, if you are with an agency. This means you may need to test your ideas before you launch your plan. Will you price by project? A flat monthly fee? By the hour? Draft your financial plan and discuss it with your team. Allow a margin of error in your early projects, but learn from them, and get the model right.
- “Horses for courses.” Position journalists as specialists. Don’t try to make them like everybody else. See them as purpose-specific, and let them power your other specialists to do what they do best.
- Trust the process. Adding journalists to a PR team can increase strategic collaboration with clients, and help a team gain insight to the broader media, journalism and publishing landscape. But it isn't like flipping a switch. Stay on track by having regular, open conversations, asking multiple people in the organization how you can make things work better and talking peer-to-peer with your clients. This openness will deepen the trust and collaboration you achieve with your entire business community: your team, clients and the media itself.
Follow Barbara Bates: @barbbq
Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene
This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the June 9, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.