PR and Journalism: A symbiotic relationship


Let’s face it, the relationship between PRs and journalists could be considerably better across the board. As the PR industry faces a reputation crisis, it is plainly apparent that our stock is incredibly low with journalists and that this must be a priority for change.

Speaking as a former journalist and as a current PR practitioner, developing strong relationships with the press is the difference between success and failure – both for the story and for you.

Symbiosis or snobbery

A symbiotic relationship is defined as a “close, prolonged association of mutual benefit”, and this perfectly encapsulates a PR-media partnership at its best.

Yet at present there is a certain snobbery from within the PR industry, where PRs look down on their media cohorts and react in disbelief when a story is snubbed or an interview declined.

In truth, there is little difference in the daily lives of a PR and a journalist. They are both incredibly time-poor roles, with constant deadlines and a mission to develop compelling content that tells a narrative within the media agenda.

The PR industry can alleviate the press on journalists by providing them with appropriate content, but all too often stories are either too salesy or too client focused to be useful. A good journalist must present facts in an unbiased fashion, while a good PR should recognise that stories need to be written in a manner that will be used by the press – not just to make the client happy.

Closing the gap

In order to address the general perception of PR in the media and with the press themselves, the two industries need to start collaborating more openly and be honest about their responsibilities.

A lack of understanding is obviously apparent, and requires both a top-down and bottom-up approach to rectify the situation. Having senior editors buying into the benefits of PR and recognising how the industry can lighten the load on their newsdesks is a must, providing the PR sector recognises the responsibility of good journalism and how they must change to fit in.

Meanwhile, building relationships with junior journalists and media students will help on a day-to-day basis to get the stories out to the public.

This one may be a hard sell, but it is essential to change the perception of our industry and ensure that it has a future in the mainstream press.


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