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Back on the other side of the fence post
Travis Hendryx

Last Thursday was my first day back at the Great Bend Tribune after working the past half decade in university public relations.
For context, I have had the opportunity of working in the PR and journalism arenas for 20 years but this is my first stab at drafting a weekly editorial.
It’s also a little outside my comfort zone.
After two decades of feature writing, covering news and sports and serving as a media liaison, I ought to have an opinion or advice on something.
But for today’s editorial, I intend to neither opine or offer advice but rather highlight some similarities  between working in journalism and public relations.
First, some background. My most recent stop was at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas where I served as Director of Marketing and Communications and Sports Information Director (SID) for five years.
Prior to Alpine I enjoyed a stint as Sports Editor for the Tribune in 2015 after a year’s run as a beat reporter in Chanute, Kansas.
From 2004-2010 I was SID at Sul Ross State, which was when I really cut my teeth in public relations. It also paved the way for another campaign in the sports information profession (2015-2019) and led to my previous position as Director of Marketing and Communications.
Sprinkled over that 20-year span was part-time and full-time work as a radio play-by-play announcer.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working in both the PR and journalism fields and have no desire to favor one avenue or the other.
Both present unique challenges and opportunities to grow as a professional but also showcase similarities in terms of their goals and functions.
According to Bailee Mulder, who is an account executive for the Public Relations Society of America’s Oregon Chapter, both journalism and PR’s modus operandi is communicating with the public.
“In both journalism and PR, professionals are constantly communicating with the public,” Mulder writes in a blog hosted by the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communications. “They tell stories and interact with their audiences – it is what keeps the organizations running.”
That leads to establishing trust.
Mulder continues, “In order for professionals in the journalism and PR industries to be successful, it is essential to build credibility with the audience. Journalists build trust by reporting and publishing fair and accurate content so that they are recognized as a credible organization. In addition to credibility, PR professionals build trust to inform and persuade target audiences to support an organization or product.”
For today’s instant information generation, relaying information and data in an accurate and understandable way is a challenge for both journalists and PR professionals.
Mulder writes, “When people read articles, listen to stories or scroll through social media, they are more likely to stay engaged if the story is clear and concise. Audiences do not have the time to think hard about what is being handed to them – big words or confusing graphics are deterrents in maintaining an audience.”
Producing interesting and relevant narrative and content is another parallel shared between the two industries.
“Arguably, the most interesting similarity between journalism and PR is that both tell stories,” says Mulder. “The passion a professional has for a subject drives the reason they are in the industry – it is what they enjoy doing. Finding and telling a good story is an accomplishment in many ways, both types of professionals feel vested in their work and it engages the reader or viewer, which is important to gaining and maintaining audiences.”
Mulder’s similarity analysis between the journalism and PR professions sums up the heart and reason of why I love doing what I do.
It isn’t just communicating and providing information to the public and sharing stories but, in some measure, creating an opportunity for serving our communities. 
And for this writer, that makes both sides of the fence post worth experiencing.

Travis Hendryx is the area reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. Send him email at