After I got a (very unprecedented) great reception to my blog post last week, I had a comment from one reader that said they’d be interested to read about my career journey so far, and why I chose to move from digital PR, to more of a traditional PR role… Especially when so many seem to be doing the complete opposite. Well, ask and you shall receive. I’ve decided to sit down this morning and explain why I made a decision that I suppose would confuse a few people.
Let me start by saying that there were several reasons why I changed my career path a few years ago; most of which were personal. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I went through quite the difficult patch, and actually looked to make an exit from the PR industry all together. Thankfully, I was offered a role at the agency where I still work today, with an employer that makes me feel valued every single day and where there’s always opportunity for personal progression. But cards on the table… Going for this role was a big change to me, it meant moving from the digital PR world that I’d come to know very well, to a more traditional approach which was new to me in places. Sure this was a shock to the system at first, but I knew this was what I wanted to do. Here are my reasons why.
3 Reasons I Moved Away From Digital
Though I can (and still do) pull a digital PR campaign out of the bag, I know I’ll never go back to a job where building links is the only objective. Negative past experiences aside, there are several reasons as to why this I’m standing firm on this.
The meaning of PR often feels lost in digital
The main thing that influenced me to move to more of a traditional agency with a mixed bag of skills, is because I feel like that’s what PR is all about. Having studied public relations for three years at university, and interning at various agencies, I went into my career having a certain perspective that the digital PR didn’t quite fit the bill for. Though definitely not the case with all agencies, I do feel that the meaning of PR can sometimes get lost in a bid to score as many backlinks as possible. I know sometimes brand mentions and nofollow links in coverage aren’t even considered or recognised at all. Though I do understand the SEO value of followed links, I think this is a prime example of how digital PR sometimes might not even be considered PR at all. Ultimately, public relations is about improving the reputation of your brand. I have a lot of time and respect for the agencies that focus on quality over quantity when it comes to their digital PR, and create campaigns that have tangible benefits for their client, as opposed to taking an “anything goes” approach.
Some digital PR tactics just don’t sit right with me
That’s probably the biggest reason I left the digital PR industry as it were; and on that point, another reason I made the move is because sometimes campaigns that are created in a bid to generate links, just don’t feel right to me. They might either be completely unrelated to the brand, the data might be unethically produced (maybe I’ll write another blog about this soon too), or the story itself might be harmful.
I think for those who work to the only objective of attracting as many backlinks as they can, then these ideas can be great. They’re just not for me. I joined the PR industry to make a difference and to be thoroughly proud of the work I produce. I knew I was never going to get there in the route that I was going, but I sure as hell feel like I’m on the right path now.
I wanted the chance to expand my skills
Okay, don’t get me wrong, I learned a hell of a lot whilst working in digital PR. Not only was I focusing on building links, I was also working on SEO optimisation, and I got quite into toying around with the backend of websites too. Despite this, I always had a niggling feeling that I wanted just a *little bit more*. I wanted to help organise events, I wanted to manage social media accounts and god only knows how desperate I was to work on glossy magazine coverage as well as the online stuff. My agency opened the door to all of this and more for me, as PR isn’t linear and there’s lots involved in creating a really good campaign for a client. What’s even better, is because we are partly a digital agency too, I didn’t have to stop the SEO work that I’d grown to love either. I think there’s so much to learn from the digital PR industry, and I’d never knock it to those who are just starting out, the experience you’ll get will be phenomenal. However, for me, I always knew exactly what I wanted my career to look like. Following a blip in the road, I know now I’m on exactly the right route. My decisions are my own and probably wouldn’t be that common for others (especially the readers of this blog), but isn’t that what makes us all wonderfully unique?
Let me end by saying this is NOT a digital PR slander post. Some of the best work I’ve ever seen in my whole life has come from digital agencies, and the creativity of those in the industry is often out of this world. I’m really loving seeing how more and more agencies are making their campaigns work harder, taking other factors into account such as unlinked coverage, social engagement, and even web traffic and conversions. All of this is what makes a campaign, a PR campaign (to me), and so I’m so here for it. For me, my decision has taken me exactly where I want to be. Though I’ve probably done the opposite of what others would, I always knew this was the road I’d go down.
I love my job and I love my life… I think there’s a lot to be said for that.