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PR Pros and the Journos – the view of the Court of Creo

IMG_1705Who can believe it’s already November? With Christmas (yes, I said the dreaded C-word) only seven weeks away, it’s getting a little scary how quickly the weeks, months and years are flying by.

This will be Creo’s second Christmas, and with a bigger office this year you can be sure we’ll have a big tree to spruce things up for the festive season. But as we think of how quickly the 20 months of Creo have come and gone, I think we can all look back and be very proud of our achievements as a team.

While I’ve been with Creo since May 2014, I’ve only been full time since May 2015 as I finished my degree. And what a lot I’ve learned in these six months.

I decided to have a look back through some of my university files and I came across an essay that led to a pretty interesting conversation in the office, one that might just start an interesting conversation in your own…

It all began with an ethics essay

PR BooksEthics is a massive issue in the eyes of the academics of the media industry, but when it comes to the working world, it’s more along the lines of common sense and decency than whether you’re acting in a deontological manner or not – although I’m not entirely sure what that means anymore.

For my essay I needed to speak to a journalist and a PR professional to get their views on the relationship between the two, and with Louise calling upon her expertise in PR, a very experienced local journalist – let’s call him Mr. X – and Bryn with his experience across both professions, I had a pretty good set of opinions to hook my essay on.

Starting out in PR, Lou saw journalism as ‘a bit of a dark art’ saying: “I always imagined it would be a ‘them’ and ‘us’ relationship when it came to how they [journalists] worked with PRs.”

And while Mr. X admits his career started before there was much of an established PR industry, he says:

“At times I have viewed the PR industry as the enemy, being there either to stop me getting the stories I want or to bombard me with stories I don’t want. There are times I still feel that way, but my views have become more nuanced over time. Especially as staffing on newspapers has reduced, PR people are invaluable sources of stories. A good PR person can be almost a colleague (and even a friend!), though the bad ones can still be the bane of my life.”

But in there lies a very good point, and a question that has concerned the media industry for a long time – do journalists now rely too much on PRs, as many are seeing their newsrooms shrink?

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 08.41.50This seems to be a very contentious issue still, while Lou agrees there are clearly pressures causing a slight change to the way journalists operate, she says: “I still find journalists will review or add information to pieces where they feel they can to avoid a copy and paste job.”

Mr. X’s opinion? “I get very annoyed when I see journalists cut and paste press releases and try to stop my reporters doing it, but I know it happens. The problem is that the news agenda gets skewed to those who can afford PR people who can write well, rather than what the public should be reading.”

And Bryn, having been on both sides of the press release, believes that the copy and paste bug has caught many journalists: “particularly the newly qualified who seem to question less and simply ask for ‘a line on’… That’s not to say that journalists no longer provide value, insight and strive to inform, it’s just the vast majority no longer have the time to devote to investigative pieces.”

Quite clearly any journalist has a difficult job ahead of them with so much copy to fill in only a short amount of time, and of course the new-found pressure that comes with the digital age and 24/7 thirst for news, and it is often human nature to seek out the easiest solution to a problem. But what this argument seems to hinge on is that using PR material shouldn’t be a go-to solution, even when a lot of good PRs do a great job for journalists in providing quality stories.

Lou says: “One of the main barriers to harmonious relationships between PR and journalism is – in my opinion – a lack of trust… a suspicion that one party will over or under-reveal information/mislead the other.”

BrynLittletonPerhaps what has played a major factor in the two professions “appreciating the position of the other” as Lou puts it, is the fact that many PR practitioners started their careers as journalists and have a greater understanding of the demands of the job – our Bryn being a good example of that.

What seemed clear from the conversation in the office and the responses for my essay is that while we develop relationships there may always be an issue with trust.
Mr. X says: “I think we can have a professional relationship and at times that might even be friendly, but the journalist in me wants to keep PR people at arm’s length at least. Especially Bryn.”

And obviously everyone in the office agrees with the line about Bryn… there’s got to be some secrets hiding in that beard of his.

Jess Ramsey

Please note we are currently working from home until further notice. To contact the team:

Louise Bradford
0778 894 4120