I never considered myself famous, and I didn’t need to. I became a journalist to entertain, inform, and inspire people. Since high school I had plans to become an international reporter working for one of the TV networks or cable news channels. After college, I set out to make that happen by taking my first gig in Joplin, Missouri.
Hey, you have to start somewhere.
Life was great. I was an eager, young journalist with the energy and desire to take on the world.
Fast-forward five years. I was in a place I never imagined: I was leaving journalism for a job in public relations. I didn’t come to that decision lightly or quickly. It took months to realize, admit, and accept I no longer wanted to be a journalist.
While the decision was tough, it’s been one of the best choices of my life. People ask me if I miss reporting, and I can honestly say no. I have no regrets about leaving TV news for PR, and here’s why.
As a reporter, I was working the nightshift from 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., which prevented me from seeing my fiancé for more than an hour a day or attending social events or volunteering in the community. I looked in the mirror and asked myself what I wanted in five years, 10 years. The only thing I was positive about was that I wanted to be married with kids — which would have shocked my 22-year-old self. I had colleagues and friends who were juggling TV news and parenthood with grace, but it wasn’t what I wanted.
Now I work “normal” business hours. My evenings entail activities and board meetings, cooking dinner with my husband, and playing with my son. I spend holidays with my family and take long weekends just because. While those may seem like small things, they make all the difference in my corner of the world.
My noble quest to arm the public with information was no longer enough to make me happy. I remember the day it became quite clear. It wasn’t often we covered feel-good, fluff stories, but I was assigned to talk with a girl about her Make-A-Wish adventure. How inspiring — a girl overcoming so much at such a young age with a positive outlook on life. Yet, I felt almost nothing. No excitement for viewers to meet her, and no relief to not be covering hard news for the day. It was just another story.
When the passion is gone from any job, it’s time to start thinking about your next move. Without passion, your performance suffers. In journalism — more so than many other jobs — that’s not acceptable. People need someone they can trust is working their tail off to get the facts and all sides of the story. That was no longer me.
Now I’ve found a passion in social media marketing. It’s exciting to be part of the constantly evolving digital landscape and use it to my clients’ advantage. Similar to news, I enjoy that every day is different and that I still tell stories — just in a different way.
Going hand in hand with passion is that I’ve always felt a need to make a difference. I was drawn to journalism so I could help people. And I do believe I helped many people. However, reporting is a thankless job. Viewers don’t email you to say thank you. And your boss and your colleagues rarely say it either. I started feeling less and less helpful. I questioned if I was really making a difference.
Now I am honestly surprised at how much fulfillment I have found in PR. I help companies sell their products, which means they can provide for their employees, who can then provide for their families. So what difference can I make managing company Facebook pages and pitching stories to the media? A lot.
The atmosphere in a newsroom is often tense with a cloud of pressure always looming. I wouldn’t even say the newsrooms I worked in had a “culture.” You went to work, put in your time, and went home. Don’t get me wrong — my colleagues were my friends, and many of us hung out together outside of the newsroom. But those relationships weren’t nurtured by our employer.
Now I catch myself bragging about my workplace culture. Did you know my agency arranges and encourages fundraisers and pro bono work for nonprofits? Can you believe we have a health committee that comes up with fun challenges and motivation to keep us active? Did you know my agency pays for associate events like attending an Iowa Cubs baseball game, hitting the golf course, and going to Adventureland Amusement Park? There I go bragging again.
Changing careers can be scary and intimidating. But instead of feeling like you’re giving up on your dream — remember there’s an even better dream out there you don’t even know about yet.