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Path to Prosek: What Journalism and PR Share – Jonathan Marino

Jonathan Marino  Follow

The best way for a journalist to differentiate their work from others was – for me – also the most enjoyable part: get to know the people who matter within the story.


“Who” matters always changes. Sometimes it is teachers, soldiers or first responders, the boots on the ground who witness the human experience firsthand and can illustrate it with detail. Other times, compelling narratives are driven from lawmakers and C-suite executives – people with a historical perspective, a view, and an ability to share a broader scope.


Exclusive documents, anonymous anecdotes, or a well-timed Freedom of Information Act request will go a long way to bridging the pieces of a narrative together. But the most critical element of reporting was always to include a human at the center of the piece. Being able to add a human element to a story about a student whose finances were temporarily wrecked after a data breach at a global retailer reinforced how far reaches the ripple effect of a hack can extend. In journalism, storytelling is a critical part of presenting a narrative, especially when you’re working with technical or esoteric subject material – and this works the same way, in PR.


I spent more than a decade interviewing a combination of all of these “whos” for my work. I got to interact with congressmen on Capitol Hill whose policies would shape the country; I was able to interview CEOs, entrepreneurs and investors whose ideas would change the market and how businesses operate for generations ahead.  


When I left journalism and joined a consulting firm in 2016, I began to gravitate toward working with executives around whom I naturally felt comfortable, even when discussing matters that rose far above my pay grade. We created content that predicted what the future of business and society would look like once contact-less payments, clean energy and autonomous driving technology becoming fully rooted into our society. And we put on incredible events on every corner of the globe, engaging with entrepreneurs, CEOs and investors who were building exciting, disruptive and innovative companies.


The ability to be relatable to your audience – both the interviewees who you meet with in person and the readers who consume your end product – is as important as the need to produce concise copy, or thoughtful analysis. After leaving journalism I spent years working with executives to get prepared for televised interviews, or presentations at events, and regularly got reminders that storytelling is one of the oldest talents there is, and still one of the most valuable ones too.


Today, with Prosek Partners, I work with a talented group on our Unboxed team that develops relationships with CEOs, heads of IR and directors to deliver their story publicly, and better. Sometimes it helps bring forward how an entrepreneur’s conversation with his father helped launch a new venture; or in others, ways creative advantages were deployed to develop a strategic edge. It’s all supposed to be part of a virtuous cycle – the entrepreneurs & CEOs work with us, we look to create a compelling narrative that is informative to others, and we better support our partners in the press.


A big part of the reason I enjoy the work with my team and with our clients is that my career was developed by and alongside outstanding journalists, many of whom continue to write and produce compelling stories today. Having a perspective a reporter takes when looking at any news story, whether it is an introduction to a new investor or managing a crisis, on my best days lets me react intuitively and insightfully to the situations we face and the relationships we manage.


On a good day, it means the people we work with earn prominent placement in top-tier media – and going back to my journalism days, there is still little that tops being ‘above the fold.’

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