Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Nicole Collins Bronzan, Director of Communications at ProPublica and former Assistant Metro Editor at The New York Times, on blind persistence, her journalism muscles and her singing career.
Prior to moving into PR, what was your perception of the industry?
I will admit that as an editor – especially at The New York Times, where pitches flow in constantly – I was not all that fond of PR people, but I respected the work. After all, they were the reason information came to us in the first place!
What lured you to the dark side and to ProPublica in particular?
My time in journalism taught me that my interest was in being the change, not just reporting on it. In terms of straight-up advocacy, my time at Freedom to Marry epitomized this ideal: The stories I was elevating were literally helping to break down barriers between gay couples and marriage. In changing hearts and minds, we were changing lives. At ProPublica, the journalist and the advocate in me get to join hands – I mean, what’s better than using your PR skills to promote top-rate journalism itself? It’s like a homecoming for me.
What annoyed you most about PRs when you were a journalist?
I think blind persistence is my biggest pet peeve, period. If I say “Thanks, but no, thanks,” or “I’ll get back to you in a couple of days, after this MAJOR deadline,” the prudent thing to do is back off! Needless to say, I pride myself on being the non-annoying PR person who can relate to editors.
What skills did you learn in journalism that are easily transferable to PR?
Just about everything: news judgement, writing and editing ability, the knack for boiling a story down to its most salient points … I use all my journalism muscles in the comms world.
Will there be time for the occasional freelance story?
Definitely! I’m sure I’ll do some writing here and there for ProPublica, and I have just started blogging for PostBourgie. As long as my bosses are OK with it, I’m open to continuing to write. And after a hiatus since my son was born, I’m hoping to get back into my singer/songwriter life, too.
What advice would you give to other journalists considering the change?
Think long and hard about the real reasons you want to leave journalism. PR may not be the best fit if you’re tired of long hours or fed up with writing, for example. But I also think many people turn to PR as an easy out – and give the profession a bad name – without really considering whether some whole other career would make more sense for them. In a nutshell: If you see PR as a “way out,” take a little time and think more deeply about it.
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