Public Relations professionals and the media – it’s all love

By Gloria Mononela

A lot has been said about journalists having a strong dislike for public relations people, and that the two have a ‘love-hate relationship’. And while this may sound close to the truth to a certain extent, please, believe me when I say it is not true.

In fact, throughout my experience in public relations, I have learnt so much from journalists, whom I can now call ‘my professional friends’. This is because I am of the understanding that when you are building a professional relationship or are maintaining a relationship, it is important that you create some sort of rapport among individuals. However, that is not to say that there will be no disagreements – in short, where there is love, there will be some pain.

To explain this further, in a way that is relatable, I wanted to share a few things that you may have been told about ‘us’, the journalists and PR professionals, that are not true and hope to make you see that – it is all love – nothing else.

Journalists hate PR people

Yes, we call for journalists for client opportunities and while journalists might come across as impolite, oftentimes it’s a case of them being pressed for time or pushing to finalise a deadline, it’s generally business. Journalist may be a bit irritated given they keep getting calls from PR operators at stressful times, so a word of advice – know when it’s the best time to call to avoid ruining a good media relationship.

Journalists need to be entertained by PR people

Gone are the days of distributing press releases to journalists and getting guaranteed coverage as a result. As a PR consultant, it is important that you find quirky and unique ways to get the journalist intrigued on what is being pitched. Truth be told – journalists love being entertained from time-to-time – if the content is relevant and current.

Journalists don’t like it when PR people call

Hiding behind mails is a no-no.  Yes email is easier but putting in a call and building a rapport telephonically with a journalist can go a long way to building that relationship. In fact, some journalists hate email as they get so many – so find out what form of communication they prefer and most will appreciate that you are working around their preferred communication option. Most importantly – don’t abuse it.

I hope I have brought light to the end of your tunnel and hopefully shifted your thinking about the relationship between media and PR consultants. While I know perception is real and while most hear-say isn’t always true, it is important that as a consultant we take a moment to understand a journalists’ craft and ensure that we are delivering content that they will find of value. In doing so you can build long – term relationships that are mutually beneficial.