Last month I was in Madrid with Iron Mountain and was chatting to a journalist over a beer about Berkeley PR’s recruitment policy of looking for NCTJ trained journalists who have been on a local rag or trade title for under two years.
He was interested as to why I said two years and I explained that it was my opinion after that length of time you have been entrenched in the world of journalism for so long the transfer of skills or approaches is very difficult. This has been based upon my experience of employing journalists at varying levels over the past couple of years. Some brilliant – some a disaster.
The beauty of employing journalists is that they can produce wonderful copy quickly. This is an art form that those passionate about creative writing have a flair for. They can bring a story to life but more importantly they can make it snappier and more engaging to read. Also, by employing former journalists you can help educate the rest of the team on what it feels like to be part of a news room and the pressures journalists are constantly under. All major plus points on top of the fact that clients love to hear you have employed a journalist.
That said, I believe if someone has been a journalist for longer than a couple of years it becomes hard to produce the type of copy some of our clients crave. Media selling can be a bit of a shock and the plate spinning of client and journalist relations can prove to be a little disorientating. I have heard of many journalists that thought it would be an easy jump but ran back to journalism quickly after realising their mistake.
After finishing our beers the journalist in question said that he thought he agreed with me. He said that he knew he would personally struggle not to tell a client to buggar off when their story wasn’t interesting or to be able to kill the urge to speak to other sources when writing an article.
We have been blessed with some skilled NCTJ trained journalists who have smoothly made the transition to PR pro and this is something that I intend to continue with when recruiting but I do think that I will continue to stick to my two year rule unless you can convince me otherwise.