Television news journalist Amy Robach kicked off the PRSA 2014 International Conference as keynote speaker at the opening general session. Robach is known for her role as anchor on Good Morning America and has nearly 20 years of journalism experience. Since joining ABC, she has covered a number of high-profile stories from the Oscar Pistorius trial to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia to the birth of Prince George and a live, televised mammogram that diagnosed her breast cancer. I had the pleasure of attending Amy’s keynote and here are some key takeaways for all PR/Journalism pros.
How do practitioners – especially women – set themselves apart as journalists?
By being the first one in and the last one to leave and having unbridled enthusiasm. Never be afraid to work that triple shift; you have to have the right mindset and mentality to do this job.
How do you set your emotions apart from your work?
As a journalist you experience some of the worst and best things that can happen to a country, a family or and individual.
Why do you think there are some few female leaders and how do you think that can be changed?
In so many corporate cultures it is still a men’s club and it’s hard sometimes for women to be taken seriously. We shouldn’t walk into our boss’s office and say “I’m sorry to disturb you” because we need something. We have to teach ourselves as women that we don’t need to apologize for everything.
Journalists are always asked to get the story fast; how do you handle that and make sure it is accurate?
Speed should never affect accuracy. You have to make sure you are responsible and ethical in the information you are providing.
Discuss a time when ethics came into play and how you handled it.
It was actually a time when I was reporting live from SkyFox helicopter here in Washington, D.C. and we were there to give breaking news for all the morning shows. There was a moment when we were flying over a river and we saw a dead body floating and there was a car parked on the bridge and the folks on the station wanted me to report on this story. And I had learned a long time ago that you never report on suicides or bomb scares. So I turned the camera off and put up the color bars so they couldn’t take the shot.
What advice can you offer for achieving a work-life balance?
It is a constant struggle keeping my family life as good as I want it to be while still doing the best at my job. I put the phone away as soon as I get home, but I do have to check it every thirty minutes or so. I make sure I am there to pick the kids up from school and help them with their homework because I am not there in the mornings. You can be a mom and you can be a working mom.
How do you balance the need for speed and accuracy? Do you find that getting ahead as a woman requires working harder and longer?