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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Gaither’

Cataloging Hacks-Turned-Flack

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Journalists leaving their posts to take up careers in public relations is not a new thing, though it seems to be accelerating lately with the doom and gloom hitting the media business.

My co-editor Joe Ciarallo recently asked “Do Former Journalists Make Good PR Pros?” Most of the numerous comments offered a resounding yes, though most were in fact, former journalists. The writing, research, adherence to deadlines, dealing with a variety of people, are all important skills. Though, one agency head who requested anonymity said, “never ends well.” “Journalists would prefer to hang up on difficult clients. You can’t do that on this side of the fence.”

Moving from one side to another is both an interesting topic for PRNewser, and firmly fits mediabistro’s M.O. to help media people retrain, reinvent, and find the jobs they want.

Without further adieu, we’re adding a “hack turned flack” category to keep track of those who make the leap. I won’t go in to depth about the word “flack” though I don’t believe it’s pejorative, and hack-turned-flack is a lot catchier than journalist-turned-strategic comm consultant.

Here’s an alphabetical list of a few of the hacks-turned-flacks who have made the jump recently:

Dan Abrams, MSNBC anchor and general manager to found Abrams Research, then starting his own content play Mediaite with mediabistro’s Glynnis MacNicol & Steve Krakauer joining HuffoPo’s Rachel Sklar and the Daily Show’s Colby Hall on the masthead.

Chris Gaither from the Los Angeles Times, to Google corporate comm

Mike Hegedus, CNBC correspondent to McKinley Reserve

Keith O’Brien, PRWeek editor-in-chief to Attention

David Patton, WSJ.com to Waggener Edstrom’s Studio D division

Blake Robinson, founder of Crunchgear to MWW Group, on to Attention


Richard Wolff
, Newsweek to Public Strategies, Inc.

Photo credit: Me, wearing a fedora.

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Do Former Journalists Make Good PR Pros?

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PRWeek editor-in-chief Keith O’Brien left the publication for a position at Attention PR last month. More recently LA Times technology editor Chris Gaither announced his departure for a corporate comm. position at Google. Countless others have either made the move, or at least are considering it, given the state of the journalism job market and growth opportunities.

But the question remains: do these former journalists make good PR pros? “Former journalists make fantastic PR people,” said Matt Shaw, senior vice president and director of communications for the Council of Public Relations Firms. Shaw cited their background in story telling and explained, “Whether it’s new people to the work force or mid-career transfers, people just don’t write anymore.”

Laura Moss, a 25-year-old Account Executive for Stern + Associates, called the news business “a dead end,” and said,”In PR, there’s still a chance to take control of content and write and use your creativity and see it published, even if it’s under someone else’s name.” Despite these ringing endorsements of journalists entering the PR world, we’ve heard from several agency execs who say former journalists aren’t always the best fit. A few reasons they give:

1) Journalists may be good at story telling, but they sometimes lack in key agency functions such as client management and business development.

2) They don’t always feel comfortable making “the push.” Former journalists are – generally – used to getting their phone calls returned. Things are sometimes different on the “other side.”

Have you hired a former journalist for an agency or internal role? What has your experience been?

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Chris Gaither Leaves L.A. Times, Joins Google Corporate Communications

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Los Angeles Times Assistant Business Editor Chris Gaither is the latest member of the media to make the switch to PR, to fill a coveted internal position at Google as senior manager in the corporate communications department. He begins on June 29th to focus on Google News and Book Search.

Gaither’s career straddles this downturn, and the last, when he started covering tech as a contributor to the New York Times in the Fall of 2000. From there he landed a full time job as the Boston Globe’s only west coast staff writer, and then joined the LA Times in early 2004.

Related, from FishbowlLA: We (Heart) LAT Tech Geeks