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The Odd Couple: PR and Journalism

As much as some PR practitioners and journalists would like to deny, PR is essential for the press, and the press is in turn just as essential to PR; it is a symbiotic relationship. Anne Gregory describes the “ambivalent relationship” as a result of “mutual dependence, but also mutual caution.”

Why? Gregory explains that “[T]he press, think that ‘PRs’ are there to block their way to the important people who they really want to talk to. Furthermore, ‘PRs’ don’t really tell the whole truth, they are always out to ‘spin’ a story to the advantage of their organisation. Consequently if the journalist takes them at their word and writes a story based on the ‘PRs’ material which turns out to be less than the whole truth, then it’s they, the journalist, who feels let down and a fool.”

According to PRestige Agency, there are some important guidelines for maintaining a happy relationship between PR practitioners and journalists:

  • Write a strong news release
  • Make yourself available
  • Learn what their needs are
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep.

Because print journalism is a declining empire due to material converting to online formats, the Public Relations industry has seen an increase in the number of former journalists who convert to the Public Relations field.

Ultimately, PR practitioners and journalists should set aside their differences because due to the demise of journalism, they will be seeing much more of one another.




Common Misconception in Public Relations

Before I became interested in public relations, I heard many ideas and perceptions on how different people defined PR.

One misconception about PR that I fell victim to myself is how it differed from journalism. I knew there was a difference between the two, but I could not tell you exactly what that difference was. In journalism, a key factor is being objective with your writing in order to allow the audience to develop their own opinion. PR practitioners still value presenting accurate information, but one of their goals is to persuade the audience to favor their client.  In terms of audience alone, journalism is designed for the masses, while PR is much more geared towards specific demographics.

Some people often mistake advertising and PR as being one in the same. They substitute the terms “advertising,” “publicity,” and “public relations” interchangeably. But, advertising has an equally different definition from PR as journalism does. The Corridor Business Journal provides a good explanation between the two. “Advertising is a paid placement with a controlled message. Those purchasing the advertising control virtually all aspects — the message, appearance, size and timing. Consumers know when they are reading an advertisement that they’re trying to be sold a product or service.”

This differs from PR because PR campaigns use persuasive communication often via a third party. The Corridor Business Journal also provides a great explanation of a campaign’s purpose:  “There is no obligation by the media to use information submitted via news releases or media kits. Because any resulting coverage is free, there is no control over the content, timing or placement.”

These misconceptions are simply a result of a lack of source of information. Whom can the average person ask to explain what the difference is? On the surface, these fields, while interrelated, seem interchangeable, so it is understandable that people are often confused about the purpose of each.

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