Moving to the Darkside with…Cheryl Bame

Prior to moving into PR, what was your perception of the industry?

I did not have a negative perception of the industry. I relied on PR professionals to do my job so I was not going to burn any bridges.

What lured you to the dark side?

First, I do not consider PR the ‘dark side,’ despite what my journalism teachers called it. I was burnt out of the television news business, with poor paying salaries and having to live in places where there was little to do and no dating prospects. After focusing on medical and health stories for several years, doing PR for doctors and hospitals was a natural fit for the next step in my career. I am now focusing on professional services PR, mainly for law firms.

What annoyed you most about PRs when you were a journalist?

I never liked when a PR representative tried to control the interview. I understand the professional role more now, but when an interview was set up, I wanted him or her to stand back and let me do my job.

How did your journo colleagues react when you told them you were moving into PR?

I didn’t talk about it. And, social media did not exist so I had few outlets to broadcast the news. But, I leveraged my news background to get jobs as well as get my clients the media coverage they wanted.

What has been your biggest surprise about PR?

How much I love it. I thought broadcast journalism was the best job in the world, until I began my career in PR. I am grateful I found a profession that still challenges and energizes me and gives me an opportunity to learn something new every day.

What lessons did you learn in journalism that are easily transferable to PR?

My news judgment and ability to meet tight deadlines. I worked not just as a journalist but on the assignment desk and as a field producer so I had incredible training in being resourceful and being able to identify a good story that would attract the media. I also understand deadlines and know the importance of packaging a complete story for a journalist.

What will you miss most about being a journalist?

Being in the middle of the newsroom when news breaks and discussing it with all of my colleagues. The energy of a newsroom can’t be duplicated in any other office environment.

Will there be time for the occasional freelance story?

No. I’m way past my broadcast career to ever go back. But, I do think about it often.

What advice would you give to other journalists considering the change?

Understand that most office environments are not like the newsroom and most people who have never worked for a news organization will not understand that. Your loyalty is now to the client, not the media. So, as much as you want to help out a reporter, you have to do what’s best for the client.

What is your top tip for PRs when dealing with hacks?

Understand that journalists are under a lot of pressure due to deadlines and you are most likely not the reason why they are not taking your call, responding to your email or being rude to you over the phone.


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