In “Facebook official” terms, when it comes to the relationship between journalists and PR people, “It’s complicated.” Despite cohabitating in the communications field, there are several points of contention that divide the two vocations. Before becoming an account manager at No Limit Agency, Troy Kehoe held “almost every job in the newsroom.” Channeling previous experiences and industry insight, he clears the murky waters that divide journalism and PR.
After working as a journalist in the heart of the Midwest and even making a leap across the pond to London, Kehoe decided that he needed to make a career change. While shifting from hard news journalism to PR might seem befuddling to some, Kehoe found the choice to be quite logical.
“I feel that my strength is storytelling, and No Limit’s type of PR allows me to tell stories in a different way [than journalism did],” Kehoe said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s absolutely true: Everybody has a story. Everyone has something interesting about them and we get to connect that story to our brands by leveraging what I call ‘human capital.’”
Kehoe never had an acrimonious relationship with PR, but he did have his reservations about the field. That was before coming across No Limit Agency.
“What turned me off about PR is exactly what No Limit doesn’t do, which is mass blanket pitches to journalists who don’t even cover what you’re pitching them,” he said. “I think that we [at No Limit Agency] target people in the right way, in that we come to journalists with real stories that would be of interest to consumers and viewers. That has made me feel more strongly that the relationship between PR and journalism can exist hand-in-hand.”
Not only is PR’s natural storytelling a draw for journalists, it’s also an opportunity for reinvention in the media world, where the information hierarchy has shifted from the newsroom to inboxes.
“I think that there are more people switching because there’s been a fundamental shift in journalism consumption by the masses,” Kehoe said. “There’s also an opportunity for PR to embrace that shift and change how we reach out to journalists and market media opportunities.”
With this movement toward digital media and instantaneous information sharing, journalists are now forced to obtain stories from thin air, summoning quotes from telephone numbers and following leads that raise more questions than they answer. This is where an amiable relationship between an account manager and journalist can bridge the moat between the two disciplines, according to Kehoe.
“PR is a lot like journalism in that it’s all about building relationships and finding people that trust you and building upon that trust into a successful relationship,” he said.
So what does a journalist think when they’re getting pitched by a PR pro? Well, it depends on who’s doing the pitching and how.