This week on the podcast we’re continuing to branch out as we discuss the role PR plays in modern journalism. For our fourth episode, we speak with Time Magazine Reporter Justin Worland. He joins us to talk about covering energy policy, working with PR in times of rapid political change, and why the energy beat is so very exciting.
Here are the biggest takeaways from our conversation. As always, be sure to listen to the full interview by checking out our podcast on iTunes, Google Play or SoundCloud.
Energy is a Diverse Beat
Energy policy and science is one of the biggest issues being covered today. From oil prices to the Paris Climate Accords, energy policy and issues plays a role in everyone’s lives. As such, Worland finds himself at the core of many divergent beats that relate back to things like climate. He told us that his favorite part of the beat is the ways it crosses over so many different touch points.
“It’s such an interesting field. It crosses between science, policy, and politics. You can touch on a lot of different things whereas most people would be siloed into doing just one thing. It really touches on so many things and I love that,” said Worland.
News Cycles are Only Getting Faster
Politics and public policy has always been a beat of constant change. With the 24-hour news cycle,
stories are relevant one minute and old hat the next minute. Worland mentioned during our conversation that the news cycle has gotten even more hectic in 2017. As the new administration in the White House moves at a kinetic clip, he told us that it can be hard to cover every detail.
“With Obama’s climate policies, they really came second term over the course of a four year period that picked up towards the end but it was much more spread out. Now we’ve seen an effort to undo a good percentage of that in the last six months so there’s always a lot happening,” added Worland.
PR Plays a Unique Role for the Energy Beat
PR people are playing a different role in the new news cycle. Worland reported that he is now less likely to respond to a pitch, but will often reach out to PR people he trusts to find spokespeople willing to talk about adjacent stories. The new PR dichotomy he mentioned speaks to the importance of not just relying on press releases when trying to get coverage for clients.
“When things were slower I was a lot more receptive to pitches because I’m always looking for an interesting story. Now it’s gone the other direction where I’m reaching out to people who may be helpful with whatever I’m working on currently. It’s something I’ve always done, of course, but it’s more of that these days because there is less time for the sort of one off pitch,” found Worland.
PR is Still All about Relationships
The “R” in PR stands for “relations” for a reason. We offer a lot of tips and advice on how to be a better PR person but at the end of the day it’s still all about cultivating relationships. While it’s great to have amazing pitches and know reporter’s beats, no one will work with you if it’s a pain. Cultivating working relationships is key for anyone’s success, and as Worland notes, being rude will get you nowhere.
“Being a pleasant person is also helpful. It’s always nice to work with a friendly person. Sometimes it amazes me how someone who has an interest in getting their client in print can be rude,” continued Worland.
Listen to the Full Episode
That’s just a taste of our interview with Worland. Hear our full interview below.