Moving to the Darkside with…Jamie Moss
Published: Apr 10, 2014
Jamie Moss is Founder and President of newsPRos, a national issues-focused media relations firm.
Prior to moving into PR, what was your perception of the industry?
Because I was in local TV news much of my career, I was somewhat insulated from the PR world by assignment editors and producers. My impressions of the industry were better formed when I worked on the NBC Network news desk in New York. There I spent time flipping through media kits and mostly sending them to the circular file. I was struck by how much money was being spent on the elaborate presentation of products and information that was totally unsuited to a broadcast medium. My initial impression was that whoever was sending these to NBC had no idea what our mission was or what they were doing, and it was hard to ignore the substantial amounts of clients’ money being wasted by PR professionals.
What lured you to the dark side and the founding of newsPRos?
Serendipity played a significant role in founding newsPRos. At a time when I was looking for more independence and control over my schedule, I ran into a lawyer handling a high-stakes mass tort case who sought my advice on press coverage: “I’m doing the Lord’s work,” he said, “and the press is being mean to me.” The combination of my law degree and my journalism career positioned me to take on his challenge. I provided him with several years of successful, nationwide strategic communications support, developed a relationship with a long list of lawyers and the legal media in the U.S., and have never looked back.
What annoyed you most about PRs when you were a journalist?
What annoyed me about PRs when I was a journalist – sloppy, misdirected pitching – still annoys me today. More than anything else, it gives PR a negative reputation. Throwing darts and hoping a few will land is hardly professional. It’s far more effective, to do your homework and identify which media outlets and which reporters will be interested in what you have to offer. If more PRs worked that way, journalists would have a greater appreciation for what a tremendous asset we can be to their reporting. Many PR professionals strive to be honest brokers and do a good job for their clients, but we all suffer because of the bad ones.
What has been your biggest surprise about PR?
How much like the news business it really is; it’s just the flip side. Reporters are looking for sources and information. I identify a news source/client who can provide insight into an important issue and provide it to reporters. It continues to amaze me how much influence PR professionals have on the news. When I see a news coverage that I know would not have been there, had I not pitched it, it’s gratifying.
What lessons did you learn in journalism that are easily transferable to PR?
Honesty and simplicity rule the day. In journalism, I learned to make every story understandable to the audience. Avoid puffery and hyperbole. Keep your message short and to the point. Give your audience the information they need and want.
What will/do you miss most about being a journalist?
In the beginning, I missed the rush that comes with breaking news. But now, I don’t miss that aspect at all, because I regularly pitch journalists great sources on breaking news and help them effectively cover these stories. Although I no longer have access to a dozen TV monitors, I am still very much a news junkie, and I just work the stories from the other side.
Will there be time for the occasional freelance story?
Not until I write my memoirs.
What advice would you give to other journalists considering the change?
Don’t do it unless you can be proud of what you are doing. If you don’t view what you do as dignified work that matters, no one else will either.
What is your top tip for PRs when dealing with hacks?
Don’t waste their time, and give them information they need and can use, along with sources who will deliver – on deadline and in a useful way. If you do that, they will view you as a source for good interviews and be back for more.