In a way, public relations and journalism can be seen as two sides of the same coin and that’s why I’ve found it so beneficial to work in both… at the same time. My name is Jess Clayton-Berry and I work here at the agency as part of the PR team.

A lot of people are surprised (and confused) when I tell them I work in public relations full-time and freelance as the Reviews Editor of a gaming website, GameLuster, in my free time. Once I’m done explaining what public relations is - which is then followed by a nod even though the expression on their face says none of that information has been understood - I’m then usually asked something along the lines of “why not one or the other?”

Public relations is the communication between a business or individual and the public in order to both relay information from the client to the public and also protect their reputation. At Rock Kitchen Harris, my role as PR Account Executive often involves sending information in the form of press releases to journalists and also supporting Taylor Wimpey’s community engagement projects. Journalists, on the other hand, produce and distribute information on the latest events or products in the forms of facts or ideas. Examples of this include writing news pieces, reviews, opinion pieces, features, and interviews, which are then published onto a platform.

The answer to the previous question is that, like many graduates, after studying three years of Multimedia Journalism at university, I happily decided that maybe journalism wasn’t for me after all and, quite frankly, I was tired of it. During my studies I had branched out with some work experience in my university’s communications department, and this gave me a feeling that communications or public relations was more up my alley in terms of a long-term career. But, aside from the transferable skills learned throughout those three years, one thing remained from my degree: to develop my portfolio, I had started writing reviews for a growing gaming website, GameLuster, which I had developed a passion for.

Since then, I have been freelancing on top of full-time employment, and so far it’s benefited me in more ways than simply being able to watch the website grow tremendously over the past three years and having a hobby to enjoy in my spare time (and getting free stuff).

As Reviews Editor at GameLuster, it’s my sole responsibility to manage and proofread reviews for the website. I keep a spreadsheet which details every game that our writers are interested in reviewing, when that game releases and whether I’ve contacted the publishers or PR team yet. Around a month before each game’s release, I research contact details for the relevant publisher/PR team and pitch our review to them in exchange for a free game code. Unfortunately, there is no system which notifies people when a game changes its release date and indie developers do tend to spring release dates upon us very last minute - which means it’s also my responsibility to consistently go through this list of 300 or so upcoming games and make sure the release dates are all up to date.

Two Playstation controllers

While in public relations I draft press releases and send them out to journalists - at GameLuster I receive press releases and determine whether they’re worth picking up or not. In public relations I’ve arranged products to be sent to journalists for review and have also chosen which publications we want to contact; for GameLuster I contact publishers and public relations departments to request games to review.

In more ways than one, both of these aspects in my life have helped me understand the other more than I could have imagined, even though the work I have done in PR has always been in a completely different industry to my games journalism work. The better I get at determining what makes a great press release, the better I get at writing press releases and recognising a potential news angle for our clients at Rock Kitchen Harris. And now that I know how to write a great review pitch to publishers and review teams for GameLuster, I also get more free stuff.

I love working at Rock Kitchen Harris and having the opportunity to fuel my passion for learning by working across a variety of topics which I wouldn’t have otherwise considered, such as housebuilding. Plus, I have the best of both worlds by freelancing journalism and writing about one of my hobbies in my spare time. I'd encourage other people to follow their passions outside of work or even discover new ones through volunteer work, local clubs, or freelancing; not only does it give you something to work on or grow in your free time, but the skills you can learn from it could also benefit you in your day-to-day work.

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Jessica Clayton-Berry

PR Account Executive