Media Relations / Power / PR Industry / Relationship

It’s complicated – A reflection on the relationship status between PR professionals and journalists

The description “it’s complicated” is commonly used on the Facebook site to define the current status, but it is also highly suitable to describe the complex relationship between public relations and journalism.

‘Complicated’ refers to something that is composed of elaborately interconnected parts, and that often can be difficult to explain or understand. I was therefore curious to dig deeper into why there exists so many obstacles to hinder these two parties to work together, as my perception is that their professional practice have certain similar outlines (as both are involved in media relations).

Some academic books (for example Rethinking Public Relations by Kevin Moloney) portrays quite a challenging relationship, whereas the two counterparts often compete with and/or manipulative each other, and where trust, integrity and collaboration are diminishing.

However, recent published articles and blog posts created by PR practitioners and journalists provide a different point of view. They express the importance of mutual trust to one another, and state that their professions rely on mutual dependency and collaboration. This perception is especially common among journalists, who previously were quite reluctant to build strong relationships with PR professionals.

A recent study of the relationship between PR professionals and journalists shows that because of the changing media environment, people have to adapt to the use of new technology, changing audience expectations and increasing financial pressures. Journalists are therefore becoming increasingly reliant on public relations.

I find these different perceptions quite interesting. My opinion is that academic writers often base their personal opinion on authentic research on the industry, while publishers of articles and blog post usually gives their personal views of the topic, also known as the ‘raw facts’.

Therefore, it can seem as the relationship is shifting towards a more affirmative direction, (maybe) with a possibility of a happy ending in the future. Ultimately, this can possibly change the relationship status between the two to ‘married’.

– Maria


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