Making the move from journalism to the dark side of PR

Making the move from journalism to the dark side of PR

14th November 2017 77 By Rachael Stray

Making the move from journalism to the ‘dark side’ of PR wasn’t something I did lightly. Since I was a little girl watching Look North, reading the Chronicle and even interviewing my grandad for a school project, I wanted to be a journalist.

At every opportunity I’d turn my school work into a news report and I’ve always been able to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But maybe the latter is just a northern quality?

I fell in love with Lincoln on my first visit and knew that was where I wanted to be. The first six months flew by and I’d barely had time to miss home – I was too busy competing for splashes and hunting for stories.

I was working alongside passionate and experienced journalists and photographers and all the other amazing people who make a newsroom tick – what wasn’t there to love?

I was building up my contacts book and had been assigned education as my specialty.

But sadly all good things come to an end.

As my personal life was actually going right for a change, my professional life was another story.

I was miserable.
Stressed.
Burnt out.
Fed up.

Home sickness was at peak levels.

The phrase people leave managers not companies sadly rang true for me. I won’t dwell on the ins and outs but deciding to leave my dream job because my mental health was more important was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

But it was the right one.

The opportunity to move to the ‘dark side’ came and I took a leap of faith. It was the best thing for my personal life, my mental health and my career.

I moved into communications within the NHS as a communications assistant for a small community trust and then covered my manger’s maternity leave.

Fast forward two years and I jumped at the opportunity to join the larger acute NHS trust in the county, in a senior role. In that one year I learned a hell of a lot and worked with an amazing team under one of the best managers I’ve ever had.

Then my husband took the plunge and made his move to the ‘dark side’ and together we decided to move to the land of stotties and Brown Ale otherwise known as the North East.

Over here on the ‘dark side’ I still get to do all the best bits of my reporter role with a lot of added perks:

  • I’m nowhere near as stressed.
  • I get Bank Holiday’s off, most if not all of my weekends and I get to spend Christmas and New Year with my family.
  • Now when I interview people for a story I find their attitude towards me is so different to when I was a reporter. They trust me with their words.
  • Yes we do often send them the content to approve – which we never did in newspaper land – but they rarely make any changes and they’re so grateful for that chance to see the story.
  • I get to be creative with videos, infographics and how I tell stories.
  • Every day I’m learning something new and taking on opportunities.

I’ve had many conversations with journalists struggling to decide whether to take the leap to the ‘dark side’ and I’ve told them DO IT.

You won’t regret it.


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To the colleagues and friends I have made on the ‘dark side’ thank you for building up my confidence again and providing me with so much learning and personal and professional growth.
To all the journalists who are still in the newsrooms and want to be there – keep going. Good quality journalism is what we all need especially when we’re faced with so much fake news.


Other related posts:

If you’d like to create some infographics or images with text check out this blog post 5 free websites to create infographics

If your stock photo library is a little bare here’s 5 free sites for stock images

Looking to create more videos then check out these 5 video editing apps for mobile and if you’d like some expert training check out my thoughts on bringing videos back in house with comms2point0 training

Make sure your Twitter feed is ticking over with these 5 free Twitter scheduling tools

Keep track of your stories featured in the media with these 5 free media monitoring alerts

If you’re not sure how much time your team spends on tasks then these 5 free time tracking tools will come in very handy


If you’ve made the move over to the ‘dark side’ what’s your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo credit: The award-winning Anna Draper who snapped me mid-interview with Professor Brian Cox at the home of the Red Arrows.

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