Social media has changed the way people interact over the past decade, both personally and professionally. One of the relationships that was most affected is the one between PR agents and journalists. Some argue that it is a run of the mill friendship, some say it is just business, some avoid it altogether. But what is it exactly? What is the magical bond between journalists and PR executives? How is it affected by the current digitalization of social approaches? There are many different views and opinions when it comes to this love-hate relationship.
Is journalism the parent of PR?
People will often disagree on what created the profession, but one thing is certain: without journalism, PR simply couldn’t be. Whether it is simply a hybrid of marketing or just a clever way to approach media and improve public image, PR simply can’t exist without journalism. The reason is that press is the face of PR, despite the digital movement, the advertising drive or social media influencers. Journalists will forever and always play a major role in what drives a society towards something, when a simple article they can influence public opinion especially when it comes to the consumer market. While it is certain that newspaper and magazine sales have dropped, media still plays a major factor in influencing the opinion and interest of the general public.
Can journalism survive without PR?
Since PR sprung out as a mix of marketing and journalism, it firmly binds the chain as it is the missing link between the two worlds. It has created a luxury for journalists they cannot refuse, with PR agents around the corner lurking with press releases and cool events to offer, journalists grew too “spoiled”; they simply can no longer go out and find news, they have tasted the bitter sweet nectar of ready-made articles. This does not deny the fact that journalists still go out and collect stories, or that a lot of those PR-written articles are merely advertisements disguised in pretty technical terms, and this is where good journalism reveals itself; a good journalist knows how to uncover and strip a press release down to its core and how to twist and turn it around to fit his or her publication and make it newsworthy.
Nowadays it is really hard to define how the relationship works, with social media at hand, “stalking” has become easier and PR agents usually capitalize on the fact that it facilitates the interaction with journalists and staying connected. However, that has somehow negatively affected this already fractured relationship and caused some journalists to be more cautious with their approach on these platforms (we aren’t all stalking weirdos, I promise!).
What is the best way to approach journalists as a PR agent?
From my experience, I can tell that the traditional method is the best way to communicate with journalists, it still has a more personal approach. Even though a lot of journalists will tell you otherwise, most still prefer interacting with a human rather than a machine. This is due to the fact that we are facing screens all day long, even at home, so when you build a relationship with a journalist in person and have that face to face interaction, you are almost guaranteed a fruitful relationship! Not to mention that you will broaden your circle of friends in the process and expand on your horizons! “Unsocial” social media has created more barriers and walls than open doors, so stay away from those channels and take them out for coffee instead.
Does this mean that social media does not help the relationship?
Absolutely not! While it does have its flaws, it is still a method to stay connected. Since most people in the ME region are expats nowadays and have families and friends around the world, SM still remains a very valid method to stay connected. Not to mention it helps you cover all preferences when it comes to communications, as I mentioned earlier there is a slice of people that prefer the indirect approach, and keep it as professional as possible without bothering with spending time building relationships with people they might ignore often.