The Careers/Job Hunt edition (March 2012) of Public Relations Tactics includes an article I wrote. The path of perseverance: Carving out a new career explores the journeys of three former journalists who transitioned successfully to public relations.
Ginger Anderson is a career development facilitator with RESCARE, Inc. and works
at the Richardson Workforce Center in Richardson, Texas.
Q: What are the first steps a career changer should take when beginning a job search?
A: Before you start a job search, know what your minimum personal budget is and what salary range will meet that. Don’t expect to make what you did at your last job. Ask yourself ‘what is the absolute minimum I can live on'? Anything above that is gravy.
Q: How can the career changer obtain
experience in a new industry?
A: Do volunteer work to hone the skills you need.
We have to show the employer that we are trying
to increase our skills... Then during the interview, tell the hiring manager that you are willing to learn from the bottom up—it’s the best way to learn about a new industry. Assure the prospective employer that you are there to help the company grow and obtain it goals.
Anderson is reachable at email@example.com.
Wiley Henry, a portrait artist, photographer and former newspaper editor, went through a period of unemployment until he landed a senior account services specialist/writer job.
Q: Was your faith tested [during your unemployment]?
A: Oh yes, definitely tested. I stayed on bended knees hoping and praying that the Lord would open a door for me. And He did. And it was definitely a faith-tester ... . Every time I thought I was getting close to landing a job, it failed. It didn’t come through.
And also, just when unemployment [benefits] were about to run out, that’s when I got the call from Deidre [Malone, who hired him to work for her firm, Memphis-based The Carter Malone Group LLC]. I had about a month left [of unemployment benefits]. That’s God... .
We are taught in church that God is an on-time God [and] that He was will be there when you least expect Him to be. I’m a living witness that He will be right there.
Henry is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deidre Malone runs her own PR firm, The Carter Malone Group LLC, based in Memphis, Tennessee. She hired Wiley Henry to help her firm's clients.
Q: What advice do you have for journalists who may be considering PR?
A: Seek a mentor.
When you are a
journalist sometimes you have
an affinity to not want to deal
with public relations professionals. This is an awesome career to have … .
A great deal of what we do is strategic communications. I recommend they seek out small PR firms that may need assistance like Wiley ... . You can learn to pitch and put together a communications strategy. That’s something you can learn.
Her firm is reachable at http://www.thecartermalonegroup.com/.
Yolette Garcia left her news management job at KERA in Dallas because she wanted a new career path. She joined SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development
as assistant dean of external affairs
Here is an audio excerpt from my January 2012 interview with her:
Anthony Hicks, APR, is director of public relations and development at Shelby Residential and Vocational Services in Memphis. Hicks, formerly a staff reporter at the Arkansas Gazette, has advice for journalists or anyone else considering a job in PR.
Q: Do you have any regrets about PR?
A: The biggest challenge is managing expectations
of senior executives. Unfortunately, public relations is a difficult field to understand if you are not experienced in it. Consequently, many organizational leaders do not have experience in public relations. That means the public relations person is expected to work miracles.
Have a thick skin. Be strategic. Always be strategic.
Q: Why get the APR (Accreditation in PR credential)?
A: I got it because I wanted to be recognized as the best in my field. I wanted to know for myself that I had the best skills that my industry required and I wanted some authentication. You have to be in PR for a while to get it. I knew it would be a valuable commodity to have. PR is highly competitive so anything you can do to differentiate yourself, the better off you are.
Q: Any other advice?
A: Before and after joining a company, learn its business thoroughly. Once hired you will consistently use your innate news gathering skills to identify programs and initiatives in the company that will make good news stories -- adapted to the press release format. A reporter’s instinct will serve you well in public relations and media relations. Understand that once you make the transition, reporters are not publicists for the company you work for.
For more information about Shelby Residential and Vocational Services, go to http://www.srvs.org/
About the Author:
Regina L. Burns, M.A., Project+, is an award-winning multimedia editor and journalist, specializing in Black history and African American stories at Harvest Reapers Communications. Her work has been published in Texas Highways magazine, WFAA-TV, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as The Commercial Appeal, the Tri-State Defender and The Flyer, among others.