Monday, November 17, 2003

Why journalism needs PR

Journalism loves to hate PR. It has become the norm in the media to knock us, whether for spinning, controlling access, approving copy, or protecting clients at the expense of the truth. Yet journalism has never needed public relations more, and PR has never done a better job for the media. [...]

It must be galling for those romantic souls in media who still like to believe that the only hack worth having is one who wears an overcoat into whose folds their little black book of contacts is hidden.

Well today's PR is the journalist's little black book. And, of course, the PR machine responds to the realpolitik of the media marketplace - feeding the unstoppable, insatiable appetite for stories or exclusives that provide a competitive edge.

For the journalist who has to cover a story in half an hour (and often in less time than that), the communications expert can be a lifeline: for facts and figures and basic information-gathering. Yes, publicists brief people but briefings are based, in the vast majority of cases, on facts alone and reflect the often stringent regulatory frameworks of the profession involved.

The reality is that the balance of information has shifted, from being news-based to being entertainment or opinion-based. Journalists need PR not just to give information, but to provide access to sexy spokespeople to fill columns, host programmes and give soundbites.

Yes, it can be annoying to have to go through us as gatekeepers, but to argue that a chief executive running an organisation should field their own calls during a busy period of media interest is also hardly practical. [...]

[...] the uneasy marriage between PR and journalism is far from over. We need to spend more, not less, time together, and remember why we need each other in the first place.

Read "Why journalism needs PR" in The Guardian and the comments of Tom Murphy and Stuart Bruce


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