Life After Broadcast: What TV Taught Me About Winning at PR

A former broadcast reporter shares her tips on successfully making a career move in the era of the Great Resignation.

Ashley Sampson
Senior Account Executive

It’s the night before one of my clients is making its public debut through a SPAC merger, and I’m having a hard time sleeping. I didn’t even know what a SPAC was a year ago, but that’s not what’s keeping me up. The client is an incredible company, full of kind and smart people developing truly life-changing technology. I genuinely like their executive team and share their passion. But I’m worried. Will tomorrow be successful? Did we do enough to support them? Did we prepare them for the tough questions? Why won’t reporters just freaking respond to me after hours of outreach? Don’t they understand how important this is?  

Then I remembered — no, they don’t. 

Let’s rewind a little. I come from a broadcast journalism background. I spent fifteen years as a producer, anchor, and reporter. That’s fifteen years of ignoring emails and calls from PR folks. Fifteen years of dismissing pitches that I didn’t have the time or energy to read. Karma is not my friend right now. 

Journalists joke about PR folks in the newsroom every day. (Think of it as a common bond between battle-weary beat reporters exhausted from marathon press conferences and impossible deadlines.) But journalists are wrong about PR.

Being a journalist absolutely prepared me for aspects of agency life. I get to utilize my journalistic skills every day and bring a fresh perspective to the clients I work with. I am writing just as much as I did in my past life, and building long-term relationships and connections with people on both sides of the media landscape. 

So, in this era of the “Great Resignation,” while many Americans are reconsidering their careers, I was asked to put together my top tips for making a move. 

  1. Dive head-first into the deep end 

Whatever your new gig is, prioritize learning everything you can about your client and genuinely caring about their successes. Celebrate the small wins and be there with a plan when things crash and burn. Anticipate media and public response before they’re even on the radar of industry insiders. Know what the client needs before they do. 

  1. It’s still all about relationships 

No matter what you do, trust and respect still matter. The clients I work with are not a story I can just file and forget. As a new PR professional, I am finding out how heavily invested you need to be in your client’s story and success. I’ve been absolutely humbled seeing my colleagues work long hours, meticulously building media lists, vetting reporters, and being a source of stability with every client crisis.

  1. Prepare more than you think you should

In my short time in PR, I’ve learned it’s more than quickly scribbling out a pitch, then lobbing a Hail Mary email hoping it lands in the coveted reporter endzone. In my case, I’ve found it infinitely helpful to spend more time looking into what a reporter actually covers.  Ask yourself if it’s a fit rather than wasting valuable client dollars writing a lengthy pitch. 

I hope this helps anyone out there in the middle of a career change, PR or not. I know for me, simply writing out a list was helpful. Trying to encapsulate 15 years of professional life and pull lessons from my career was a valuable exercise all on its own. Now, if anyone can do the same for tips on getting to sleep before a big day, I promise that is one email I won’t ignore.