AS a seemingly never-ending line of hardened newspaper hacks face the reality of redundancy, the title freelance journalist seems to have become a Noughties euphemism for ‘out of work’.
So where do all these new ‘freelance’ reporters go when their staffer days are finally behind them?
Some actually do become ‘freelance’ it seems – and face fierce daily battles with a multitude of other former staffers trying to seek out an existence on a shrinking pool of stories.
More common these days is that job-seeking journalists will attempt to re-apply their news nous in the world of consumer PR.
Journalists “retiring” into a PR job seems, if you’re an out-of-work hack, to be a popular and potentially lucrative career change once the newspaper managers have decided you don’t fit into their grand plans for a scaled down newsprint future.
While decent journalists prospering in PR seems to be a growing trend, there is a potential rude awakening awaiting any hack who does make the leap to the PR unknown with their eyes and ears anything less than fully open.
It’s certainly not the walk-in-the-park easy life some ill-informed journos may imagine.
Forget playing God with press releases for a start. No longer self-appointed censor, judge, jury and critic, journo converts will have to learn quickly that the only deity in public relations is the one who holds the purse strings – the client.
When they knock back your racy news release – the one you know for sure will make front page of The Sun – because they have a board member who doesn’t like red top tabloids, how will you react?
Well, you could tell them to go forth and multiply (and lose your job) or you’ll learn that navigating the gulf between producing a good national news story and satisfying the client is a delicate and strategic balancing act that takes experience, skill and plenty re-writing to achieve.
And don’t even get me started on working within a budget.
But there are success stories.
Here at Manchester based PR agency, Brazen, they had the foresight to appoint me – a time-served national journalist – as the company’s News Editor long before the London agencies got a whiff of the so-called ‘trend’. Insight gives you a huge advantage when delivering value in PR.
It’s catching on too. Former national newspaper journalist Howard Bowden has been hired in the newly created role of head of news at well-established London PR agency Clarion.
The ‘trend’ has even been flagged up in the latest issue of PR Week – so, I guess, it’s now officially the thing to do for all those PR Agencies looking to embrace the brave new media world.
Howard Bowden says that despite the growth of new media ‘the essence of news remains the same as ever’.
True. It’s the way we are now delivering that news, and the means we use to make that delivery as potent as possible, that is changing.
By Adam Moss, News Editor