The Balancing Act: The Unique Relationship Between PR Professionals and the Media
Public relations professionals and media representatives share common goals, which include creating compelling and informative narratives. Although we may share mutually beneficial roles and objectives, we don’t always act in complementary ways. These push-pull attitudes and behavior reflect a well-known tension between these two groups, which exists for a number of reasons.
From PR’s Perspective
The fundamental job of PR professionals is to generate meaningful visibility and enhance credibility on behalf of their clients, which they accomplish through effectively crafting and pitching engaging stories with topics, angles and formats that appeal to their media counterparts, such as editors, reporters and journalists. As PR professionals, we think this way: “We’re giving you story ideas and ways to piece things together that maybe wouldn’t have been on your radar had it not been for us.” From the PR side, tension builds when media representatives disregard their carefully crafted pitches by not responding at all, or going in an undesired direction.
From the Media’s Perspective
At Berbay, we realize that the media needs relevant, distinctively gripping, credible stories and guests to fill their daily editorial pipeline. We also realize that journalists are writing under intense deadlines and are inundated with constant phone calls and press releases, some of which are not as targeted as they should be. Admittedly, we also realize that a lot of PR professionals (of course not those at Berbay) are pitching weak, uninteresting and even downright silly story ideas. As media professionals, they are thinking: “Why on earth are we being pitched a boring, non-newsworthy story about a company getting new office chairs?” Given the time pressures and overfilled email inboxes of media representatives, their annoyance or resentment toward some PR professionals and the quality of their pitches is totally understandable.
Practical Solutions for Bridging the Gap and Overcoming Tensions
Over the years, Berbay has enjoyed countless positive and successful experiences working with media professionals, as well as some that definitely leave room for improvement. It is through these more difficult interactions that we can both learn and find some common ground and workable solutions, including:
• Building mutual respect and trust: Both groups should take the time to learn about the needs of each other, which would cultivate more respect, understanding and trust.
• Reinforcing shared goals: Find those areas that are mutually beneficial and build upon them. Be positive and help each other meet goals.
• Taking responsibility: Both groups should take responsibility for the impact their words and actions have on one another. For example, PR professionals are fast to blame reporters for their harsh words; however, we don’t necessarily take responsibility when we ourselves don’t communicate in the right way.
• Maintaining open and consistent communication: Both groups need to work at maintaining an honest and ongoing dialogue with each other about the specific issues and challenges of working together. For example, we can email media professionals more often about pitching them before flooding their inboxes.
Through reinforcing shared goals, building mutual respect, taking responsibility and maintaining open communication, PR professionals and media representatives can help overcome the tension that exists within their unique and interdependent relationship.