Journalism versus PR. This relationship can be compared to the Sunderland and Newcastle Derby. Work together, only because they have too. Many journalists dislike PRs, and vice versa, but what is the reasoning behind this?
Since public relations became a ‘thing’ in the UK in 1948 by a man called Kenneth Day who worked for the council. He proposed setting up the IPR (Institute of Public Relations). Many journalists at the time, heavily disliked the idea of a profession being created, which could be classed as the go to for many journalists and their interviewees. The PR people could stop the journalists getting the story or the quote they wanted.
The best quote that I think was from the time when the IPR was formed is this, which I think fully portrays the relationship between the two parties at the time.
They are an obstacle to the journalistic profession. I hate them. If I had my way, I would do away with the lot. (Bert Gunn, The London Evening Standard editor)
(As a side note, I find this whole hate relationship quite ironic, considering the IPR was formed on Fleet Street. For those of you who don’t know the irony of this, Fleet Street is the street on which newspapers lived!)
Now, as a public relations student, I know I don’t have as much of a voice as the other public relations practitioners out there. However, I have no qualms with journalists. I think journalists are taken for granted. Some PR practitioners assume it is a right of theirs for the journalist to put their news release in the media, just because it has been sent. This is wrong. A journalist needs something of news value, and that is one of the jobs of a PR practitioner, to find the news value, or the relevant angle on which the story will become interesting. Even if this is done, there is still no guarantee that the journalist will feature your story in the media.
I have heard many times that there have been multiple occasions on which journalists have been putting the news releases straight into the media, without reading through them first, and ensuring that all is correct. From a PR perspective, this is brilliant as the message that was getting put across, has been. But from a journalism point of view, this is extremely lazy. We are PR people, not journalists!
I appear to have gone slightly off track, but the point I was getting at, is that in both journalism and PR, neither are wholly good in this relationship. I suppose it could be likened to a marriage. Marriage is like a roller coaster, there are ups and downs, but at the end of the day, it needs the two parties involved for it to work. There will always be battles won and lost between the two, but it is together that they will win the war. (Not a real war, I meant this metaphorically!)