I continue to hear from students and professionals that public relations is often maligned by journalists. I would urge these media folks to look inward and re-think their often-too-public position that PR is the “dark side.” They’re biting the hand that feeds them.
In fact (and I’ve been saying this out loud for years), it’s time for journalists to step up and admit that they need PR people as much as PR people need them. They might even need us more than we need them. I’ll explain:
First of all, social media has allowed PR practitioners to become their own media. In a review of “Be the Media”, David Mathison’s cool book on modern publishing tools, Ben H. Bagdikian, author, Pulitzer-winning journalist, and dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Journalism at Berkeley, says, “…modern methods permit every person and organization to reach an audience that only a few years ago was reserved for the multi-billion dollar media conglomerates.” The need for traditional media and messages pitched to and written by a third party is shrinking. This has many journalists scared.
Second, journalists know but won’t say how much they rely on PR people to help them find stories, get interviews, do research, and obtain resources. And it’s just an educated guess here, but I’ve observed that easily more than half the stories in any given news publication or program are first generated through a PR person’s pitch.
And my last point: membership in PR organizations include many former reporters who have retired, sometimes involuntarily, from journalism. It’s logical for them to come over to our side to work as public relations practitioners because of their knowledge of the media and their day-to-day experience working among us.
So who’s in the power seat here? Who should be given who a little more respect? I’ll let you answer these questions. Your thoughts?