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Public Relations not a game

02 Nov

This is a follow up to my post last week (“do we trust journalists?”) and how important it is to understand what they want.

I frequently come across the argument that while PR people like to be proactive about pitching stories, they don’t do a good job of targeting, and even responding. It’s often a cat-and-mouse game.

Alec Klein, professor of journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern wrote a thought-provoking piece this week on the PR game, and his experience as a journalist when trying to get the gatekeepers to be forthright. He talks of how, “when PR people essentially stonewall a reporter, all they are doing is forcing the reporter to find other ways to learn what is going on.”

Last Friday, after the Media Relations training session, I asked one of the attendees her reactions, one big take away was that reporters are not the enemy:  “We have to understand that they are just doing their job, and we could always find ways to help them improve their story,” she said. As long as you you how to talk to the media, you can turn what seems like an inquisition, into a dialogue. Bottom line: It’s not a game. Even if it seems like one, both sides need to win.

Sidebar: Speaking of which, this may be slightly academic, but in case you are interested, the Institute for Public Relations has a very good exploration on Ethics and Public Relations. It delves back into Plato’s Dialogues, truth and advocacy in the modern age.

(A shorter version of this appears in ValleyPRBlog)

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