Kennedy Coopwood learns how to cross over from Journalism to Public Relations.


A look back at the National Association of Black Journalists 2016 Convention Panel entitled ‘Crossing Jordan: Transitioning from Journalism to Public Relations’ where panelists discussed the need for journalism in PR, the skill set needed for success in the industry and the journey ahead for media communications.

I attended the session  filled with enthusiasm and hope. I wanted to see what it takes to make it successfully in the public relations field. Being a journalism major with a specialization in public relations, I am always willing to see how other professionals see the connection between the two. Panelist Rebecca Aguilar said it best, “Journalism and public relations are married. When you need the story to be told, you call public relations, when you need placement, you call journalism.”kenn

Moderator Terry Allen, who has been involved with NABJ for over 20 years and has moderated the panel for four years, came up with the idea of Crossing Jordan as reference to the Biblical times where the Israelites had to cross the Jordan River to the Promised Land. It was a journey that was meant to be endured. On transitioning to public relations Allen said, “You must learn how to cross the river but also learn how to swim in it. It’s a process.”

The panel consisted of six professionals from both the journalism sector and communications sector and also included some whom have made the switch to public relations after being in journalism for years. The “green side,” references the amount of opportunities and higher pay that public relations offers in the workforce.

Sometimes there is a story or project that isn’t there and you have to be open to create it. The real journey to PR is knowing your skillset and selling it. You have to be creative, innovative and collaborative. Whether in journalism or public relations, you are still telling a story so you also must be critical, able to tell the truth and have the ability to think analytically.

“Journalists view public relations as an escape from writing but you actually write even harder because you have to create the story,” Allen said.

There are many ways to transition into public relations. From media relations, strategic communications, investor relations, social media management and more, the industry provides ample ways to get your foot in the door. Whether beginning your journey, well into PR, or at the finish line of your career, the most important thing to always carry with you is transparency; which is core for all journalism, public relations or any public service position.

“Journalists are afraid to transition to PR because they don’t think they have the skillset. Make the skills transferrable. Be hungry,” Allen said.

The 2016 NABJ Convention was held in Washington D.C Aug. 3 through 7 in conjunction with National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Students can obtain a downloadable copy of the panel presentation by emailing


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