Last week, I had two different writers tell me that they had “gone to the dark side” — that they were working on public relations projects. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention: doesn’t everyone describe PR as the dark side of writing? I first heard it described as such when I was interning at the Tulsa World in college. There was a constant stream of reporters leaving the paper for PR jobs.
In general, writers tend to look down on PR work. It pays well, but there is a sense that we’re doing something that just isn’t right. But why? Truthfully, I can’t think of anything wrong with public relations in and of itself. Sure, I’ve known many PR ‘professionals’ who were a bit out of line, but there’s nothing wrong in my mind with working as the advocate of one particular company.
For freelancers in particular, and writers in general, I think it’s time for a change. There should be no shame in taking on PR projects. We’ve all made fun of a website with poorly written copy or a company spokesman unable to communicate properly. There’s no reason that we should be uncomfortable with helping a company improve their communications.
PR work pays good money and, to be honest, it’s easier to build a writing business on press releases and copy writing than it is on long form magazine articles.