From the Newsroom to the 35th floor: My Transition into Public Relations (Part 2)By
Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm account executive, Ali Hughes.
As you can imagine from where I left off in my last post, television news is not as glamorous as most people think. Everyone has their favorite anchor, or weather person that they allow into their lives every day to keep them up to date on the world around them, but not many people think about the work that goes on behind the scenes to pull off one 30-minute show that will never be aired again.
Despite the hard hours and your work often going unnoticed or underappreciated, a well-oiled newsroom is a thing of beauty. One show depends on so many people, and as the producer you have to keep everyone happy – from the photographers, to reporters, anchors and the control room. Everyone wants to put on a great show, but no one can do it alone. It is a unique job, putting all your hard work and emotions into each story you write just to start all over again the next day, and the only people that really understand that is your team.
After two years in Michigan, working every show from the morning to evening, from Fox to NBC, I aimed for bigger and better things and moved to San Francisco, CA. Jumping from a 114 market to a top 10, I had visions of amazing benefits, a higher pay and a great schedule. No more being underappreciated and overworked, no more working every holiday and having to sleep while everyone else is out enjoying their lives. Boy was I wrong. Of course working for a national network had its perks, such as higher pay, a much nicer newsroom, bigger staff and even a helicopter for breaking news. Yet the decline of the newsroom is hitting the country – no matter what market you’re in. The days of getting your news from your favorite local anchor is over.
Newsrooms aren’t just competing with each other anymore– they are up against twitter, news apps, Google – a world where news is instant. That means more work for a smaller staff and having to work at a station for many years before having off holidays or being on your dream show. For most that dream show is the 5 o’clock evening shows – meaning having a shift of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — normal working hours!
Needless to say, I quickly realized I needed to get out of the news industry. It took me three years and two stations, but I finally believed what older anchors and producers (lifers) kept telling me – “get out now while you’re still young.” I started dreaming of normal work hours, of not having to sleep during the day and walk through the city at two in the morning for work.
After secretly interviewing at many public relations firms in the city, I found Peppercomm and tried to let my news director down easy. I ended up working both jobs for a few months and am still a freelance writer at the news station; despite my new and exciting career it is hard to cut ties with an industry that feels so familiar. As I get ready for work in the morning, I still get excited hearing the morning news intro music and often find myself trying to catch errors in the slugs (writing on the screen).
As I work on the other side of the media now, I realize how much the news industry taught me, and how much I learned from lifers that I first thought were just trying to scare me off. I have a new life now in PR, but the local news will always have a special place in my heart.
Hopefully you’ll keep this post in mind next time you’re pitching a broadcast reporter or producer – who is probably over worked and very tired. When they snap at you or delete your emails without even reading them, don’t take it personally. And one last thing – when you’re on your way home at 5:30 to see your family or enjoying a paid holiday, try not to take it for granted – I know I never will.