Former Journalist Portia Young Enjoying Her New Life in PR

Portia Young’s passion for journalism made her a household name in Milwaukee. She climbed the TV news ranks from a small-town reporter to the anchor desk at WISN 12.

Former WISN 12 anchor Portia Young talks about her transition to public relations at Sargento. (Photo by Scott Patrick)

Former WISN 12 anchor Portia Young talks about her transition to public relations at Sargento. (Photo by Scott Patrick)

But after 14 years of hard work in the news business, Portia’s priorities shifted with the birth of her daughter. She soon realized that the life of an anchor and the life of a mother were nearly incompatible – especially working early mornings, weekends and holidays.

“There is a pendulum of work-life balance, and in TV news, that pendulum always swings back to work,” she said.

Portia left WISN last year to become public relations manager at Sargento. She shared her thoughts on the news business and her transition to PR life at a PRSA luncheon this week.

Portia said she always knew there was life outside of TV, because she had solid writing skills that are sought-after in public relations. She said she is happy at Sargento, even though she is not in the spotlight every day.

“For me, it was never because I had to be on TV,” she said.

WATCH: Portia Talks About a Hyperlocal Shift in TV News

Portia still gets to tell stories at Sargento – but she’s telling them to a different audience. Now, she writes feature stories about Sargento employees and shares them with other employees on the company’s intranet pages. One of her more recent stories was about a truck driver who gave his coat and boots to a woman in freezing cold weather.

Portia said it’s rewarding to represent Sargento, which has been named a top workplace Wisconsin. She is excited to tell the stories of employees, many of whom have stayed at the company for decades.

“I never realized how internal messaging could be so powerful,” she said. “I didn’t realize what kind of impact that would have.”



  • Don’t be pushy or tell a reporter what to do.
  • Think of B-roll opportunities and arrange interviews with people other than the “talking heads”
  • Journalists cringe when you ask for questions in advance. Keep in mind, she said, that journalists “don’t want to blow the lid off of everything every day.”
  • Return phone calls, even if you don’t have much to share. The journalist will respect you, and may be more receptive to your future pitches.


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(Jeff Rumage writes about public relations news in Milwaukee. You can reach him at jeffrumage(at)