During my freshman year of college, I decided that a double major in journalism and political science was the perfect first step to becoming a famous international correspondent (or a famous local city hall reporter, whichever came first). But after three years of school – and a better understanding of PR – I had changed my mind.

Making the Switch

Three years into college, I took a PR 101 class and loved it. Writing and working with media was exactly what I liked about journalism, but with twice the opportunity for creativity.

That summer, I applied for a communications internship and soon found myself answering reporters’ questions instead of asking them. When I went back to my journalism classes, being on “the other side” of the media lens had changed my perspective. Hearing the questions that experienced writers were asking helped me to further anticipate what reporters would ask.

After I graduated, having that background in journalism made me better prepared to jump into PR because I’d worked in a newsroom, and knew what reporters would look for in a pitch.

Journalism vs. PR

In college, journalism and PR were framed as rivals with competing interests. However, in the workplace, they blend seamlessly together – both use the same outlets to promote content and engage with readers, including social media. Reporters and PR pros have similar skill sets and interests: writing, research, social media, creative thinking and being able to tackle deadlines. And we’re collaborative — working together every day to find great content and produce stories.

The End Game

I loved the opportunities that journalism provided to meet different people every day and hear their stories. But I also love the opportunities unique to PR, like working on diverse accounts and strategizing how to best reach a particular audience.

Looking back, I’m glad I tried both journalism and PR while I was in college. It doesn’t feel at all like a huge change in a career. I’m still writing, reading the news, working on deadlines and drinking too much coffee – just not in a newsroom.

Elana Pidgeon

Elana Pidgeon is a technology intern at Weber Shandwick and a Western Washington University alumna.  You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.



Photo credit: Luis Llerena

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