Journalism and PR. To me, different sides of the same coin. The two professions somewhat overlap and we’ve seen many Hawaii professionals make the switch from one to the other — and sometimes back again.

I’ve been fortunate to have careers in both and having recently marked my fourth anniversary at CommPac, it’s a nice time to reflect on the journey I’ve been on.

After several reporting internships at the former Honolulu Advertiser, I started a copy editing job right after college and spent the next 10 years there until the newspaper was sold and merged with the now Honolulu Star-Advertiser. During that decade, I learned so much about politics and business, from world news to the power of local communities, and even about exotic recipes and persuasive op-eds. All through my job of editing for grammar and strengthening content and, of course, attempting to write compelling and memorable headlines.

It was a great job — I got to stay up to date on current affairs and learn something new all the time. Knowledge is power!

But copy editors never left the newsroom. We don’t interact with the folks making news. We know the names of every important person … but it’s a conversation that never got started.

As PR specialists, we drive conversations, provide strategic counsel and work tirelessly to get our clients in front of their target audiences. Developing content for journalists that either inform, persuade or entertain is not without its challenges. And I still chuckle at the irony of how much attention I give to my media pitches when previously I was responsible for posting content to the breaking news section of — where I quickly scanned and deleted news releases from various PR agencies and organizations within 5 seconds of reading the lead.

While both careers are rewarding and stressful in different ways, I could never have imagined a bigger pressure than a daily newspaper deadline. But agency life is all about deadlines, for multiple clients beyond the 8 to 5 workday.

However, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. It’s a job that keeps you on your toes, your mind sharp and puts your skills to the test with every new opportunity.

My second career in communications was probably a smart move as communicating is at the heart of what we as a society all do — from everyday conversations to managing crises to running a business. My journalism experience laid a strong foundation for my work in PR and if I had to do it all over again, I’d choose the same path.

It is interesting to note, however, that my first internship offer was in PR. And I had turned it down to pursue my interest in journalism. Funny how things play out in life…


  • Rodney Lee says:

    Nice write up, Shauna. “Different sides of the same coin” – I like that. Congratulations on your work anniversary. From the dark desks of the newsroom to the big conference rooms of clients, I’d say you made a huge and successful transition. I’m so happy that you’ve found your calling. Keep up the good work, Shauna.

  • Anklebiters says:

    🙂 Great move….

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