Health Comms Awards Prmoment India 30 Under 30

Why journalism experience is a key differentiator for communication professionals

My career has spanned over two decades, with cross-functional experience on the journalism and corporate sides-- both as a broadcaster with leading news outlets and as a brand custodian for multiple corporates. While each role has its own nuances, my experience on the media side has definitely brought rich dividends to corporate communication-related roles. 

Apart from some obvious similarities in work, such as water-tight deadlines, public engagement, and effectiveness in communication, there are intricate ways in which a newsroom experience both differs and harmonises at the same time with the role of corporate communications.

Understanding the editors’ mind

The first and foremost thing about having been on the journalistic side is the ability to pick the minds of seasoned editors and ambitious reporters to discuss potential win-win storylines. What will constitute a story for a particular publication or a concerned editor is an insight that a former journalist can decode. It also allows one to determine if what might appear significant to the organisation is newsworthy or not.

An eye for credibility

Every time a journalist discusses a story idea with their editor, they have to make sure that the article has the support of a reliable source and that the story line appears impartial and independent, free of any corporate influence. The experience on journalism side guides one to bring credibility and objectivity to their communication in a corporate role. Instead of expecting a journalist or publication to publish the company’s standpoint in-toto, an individual with media experience understands the sensitivities and issues such as objectivity and credibility that a media organisation must maintain. Such communication professionals leave a positive mark on the minds of the journalists, which later evolves into a healthy rapport. Elements such as incorporating a quote from Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) or credible faces from academia increase the credibility of a communication activity.

Crafting a compelling story in digital age

In the digital age, stories fly thick and fast, demanding a share of the audience’s attention, which is always in short supply. Hence, media organisations are in want of stories that hook readers. Fronting the communication with an informative introduction, sprinkling vital facts, and topping the story with a catchy headline pulls the attention of the editors as well as the audience. A communication professional with prior media experience uses the threads of information to craft a compelling story, and this can prove to be an important asset for their team.

Nose for news

One of the skills of communication specialists with a background in journalism is the ability to generate stories from both routine and major company events and developments. They have the deftness to quickly sift through the existing developments in the organisation that can be of interest to the media. Such professionals can ensure consistent reportage for their organizations rather than depending only on big ticket items to drive media visibility.

Personal relations and mutual respect

Having spent time on the other side, such professionals have genuine connections with both beat journalists and editors across the media. The relationship comes with a certain journo-to-journo chemistry with mutual respect and understanding of each other’s boundaries. Particularly in times when one is grappling with a firefighting situation, conveying the standpoint of an organisation can be seamlessly done by someone who knows the dynamics of the newsroom. A personal connection and the ability to pick up the phone and explain one’s standpoint in a manner that the journalist appreciates is one of the most valued advantages in the communication industry.

 Naveen Soni is the director - of corporate communications and public relations at Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

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