PR professionals need journalism skills

When I declared my major, Public Relations, my advisor showed me the required classes. The first one that caught my eye was Communications and Journalism 222: News Reporting and Writing. My initial thought was “what does news reporting have to do with public relations?”

According to PRSA, or the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

As I have learned in CJ 222, journalists serve the general public. PR practitioners serve the organization they work for. Journalists must avoid taking sides where as PR practitioners are loyal to their organization.

Although both of these professions seem like they are on opposite sides of the communications spectrum, both professions need each other to be successful.

“Inside Reporting” by Tim Harrower, says PR Practitioners provide information about a their organization to journalists, but since journalists can take this information anyway they please, practitioners must be careful in the information they divulge. Due to this fact, journalists “always remain wary” of practitioners.

It is a complex relationship between the two careers, but neither can survive with out the other. Learning how a journalist thinks is necessary in being a successful PR practitioner.

Terry Chmielewski is a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. According to Chmielewski, the reasons why News Reporting and Journalism is a required class in the public relations curriculum are simple: proper style, format, and values. Proper style makes one credible. If one does not learn the proper, professional style of writing for the media, then one does not have a job.

“PR practitioners must know what journalists think is important,” Chmielewski said.

One journalism value that PR practitioners must know about is accuracy.

“What do you call a PR practitioner or a journalist who makes a fact error? Unemployed,” Chmielewski joked.

Learning these news-writing values is important for public relations students because most will be writing on behalf of the organization they work for. Understanding the media audience the writing is directed toward can mean the difference between success and failure.

A news reporting class in a public relations curriculum instills and reinforces proper writing but also builds and explains the relationship between future PR practitioners and journalists.

Courtney Stevens

Images are courtesy of and

This entry was posted in Journalism Jobs, Media Credibility and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to PR professionals need journalism skills

  1. nelsoabb says:

    My major is public relations as well and I know some people in our field may question why we should take this because they don’t want to go in to journalism. I know I don’t want to be a journalist, but it is very true that there are key elements we have learned so far that will help us be successful PR specialists. Like you pointed out and what Terry said, it is crucial in both fields to not make errors. We have thouroughly discussed why you can’t make an error as a journalist and in PR you are holding the reputation of the organization you are working for. It’s a lot of pressure so it’s very beneficial to learn how to do it correctly.

  2. pederska says:

    When i declared my public relations as my minor I thought the same thing, why do i need to take news reporting and writing? I wanted no part in writing news stories, but as i continue this class I have learned to enjoy it a little bit more. It is important to be familiar with the rules of journalism as a PR specialist in order to be successful.

  3. shirekag says:

    Being a PR major, I thought the same thing when I saw CJ 222 listed as a required course. It just shows how all communication fields are interrelated to each other. Most of what we have learned in the 222 course so far has benefitted me because the two field are so related. Journalism can be a key part to a PR job, depending on which aspect of it you decide to go into.

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