Are PR practitioners and the media getting along?
PR practitioners and members of the media have roles that compliment each other. Both sides of these relationships have common goals of creating stories, or developing features, that keeps readers, listeners and viewers informed. The media is known to some as the central vehicle for the PR industry’s messages; and PR practitioners want to place their stories in the news or other media publications. The media have become more dependent on PR to supply content for column space. PR can control access to information that media wants, which give them much leverage in negotiations with media, as they can refuse information. PR could lose one of its main avenues for communication with the public without media. Both have many opportunities for tension in the relationships between them, which lead to many ups and downs.
For example: “…when Armstrong Williams, billed as a conservative commentator, reportedly accepted $240,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) on his syndicated television show. Public relations firm Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom Group, brokered the deal. The incident raised a number of questions, including whether it’s appropriate for the government to use tax dollars to promote policy in the media, whether Williams should have disclosed the relationship to his audience, and whether Ketchum crossed the line.”
This brought about much controversy tension between practitioners and media. There should be open, positive communication between the two. Relationships between PR and media professionals are built on mutual respect, so that both groups are able to reach the public with good stories and information people can use to improve their lives. Not everything will be all peachy-keen.
Media professionals sometimes resent PR practitioners who pitch boring, non-newsworthy or off-topic ideas. PR professionals sometimes resent media for writing stories in unwanted directions or not responding to their pitches at all. Public relations practitioners want to see the most flattering media stories about their clients. They learn what producers, journalists, columnists and popular bloggers want in terms of news and topics, and the exact ways these people need news pitched to them.
The media is always in need of constant streams of compelling content to fill airtime and print space. They are looking for experts and guests daily. As a practitioner, you have to keep up on breaking news and trending topics that a client’s product, company or expertise could somehow tie into so as to expand that client’s business and reputation through media coverage.
There are some services such as Help A Reporter Out and PR Newswire that serve as matchmakers between media and PR professionals. They help in delivering media professionals’ needs regarding stories, deadlines and interviewees wanted for PR practitioners who can determine if their clients fit.
At the end of the day, both professionals should learn to keep it simple, clean, straight to the point, and fun! It does matter!