The rise of public relations as a recognized tool for helping businesses achieve solid results is very real, although it may be surprising to some. It also poses questions: How does PR fit into journalism? And vice versa?
Even as PR becomes more precise and more targeted with its use of modern communications tools, journalism isn’t dying – it’s simply evolving. No doubt the Internet has changed just about everything we know, and journalism is no different. Publications that relied for years on the advertising revenues from their print editions have downsized as more consumers obtain their news and entertainment from free online sources.
Some journalists have found new careers working for companies that publish only online. Others have jumped to jobs that involve using the skills they honed as journalists – and that may involve a healthy dose of public relations. The facts say the number of journalists has fallen by nearly 25 percent since 2000, and it continues to drop.
In contrast, professional PR jobs have skyrocketed by more than 60 percent over the same time period – and this number is expected to rise over the next five-plus years. What this means to your company is that good writers today are no longer tied to one newsroom; rather, they’re prepared to jump from one media outlet to another and offer their abilities across communications platforms, often within the context of smart PR.
Smart companies are making investments in those abilities. Are you?
Naturally, the relationship between journalism and public relations is more complex. Most journalists respect what public relations professionals do, and vice versa, while their tools evolve and overlap around popular message arenas. For example, an experienced PR professional can build a solid relationship with an experienced journalist. When news about a PR client emerges, this relationship helps achieve earned media coverage in select sources. The connections between journalists and PR professionals can also help counteract ultra-speedy and sometimes false “news” that circulates across social media, as explored in an article from The New Yorker.
Today, the people behind these professions get to know each other quite well and benefit from the relationship. Journalists are inundated with unsolicited emails and calls from PR firms and numerous other sources. By knowing their editorial audiences and adding their creativity and experience, many news releases do uncover interesting material that journalists are able to turn into an article. The PR professional then uses the article to boost the company’s reputation and image. Often, the article, or link to it, will be promoted through social media or on the company website; likewise, the link to the article can become material for a blog or shared on the social media page promoted by the news source – a newer trend for news outlets. With these two professionals working together, there is a much higher likelihood for accuracy and truth.
Interestingly, many in the PR industry are beginning to shape their workspaces more like newsrooms. More PR and marketing departments are recruiting journalists to create a hybrid that involves multiple roles. Sometimes called “content marketing,” the goal is to cast as wide a net as possible for PR clients with valuable, newsworthy information that adds to the client’s credibility. This has become an even more active environment with the 24-7 availability of social media posts, reader comments, blogs and news blurbs in the offices of PR firms. They must read, respond and craft their clients’ messages within this bustling atmosphere of messages.
Both PR professionals and journalists can rally around the need to find interesting stories or angles and write well about them. Social networking is the medium through which many of these stories are told and that trend will only become stronger, especially as companies look to PR pros for online reputation management.
Can PR and journalism play well together? Yes. Is this the best time ever for your organization to see what these tools can do for you? Absolutely. Today, let the professionals at Axia Public Relations show you how smart PR, paired with top-notch relationships with journalists, can make you a champ.
by Jason Mudd, APR
Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations and an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon.