War of the Worlds: Journalists vs PR Pros
The journalists vs. PR professionals war has been going on for decades. It is fueled by frustration, impatience, beginners in both fields, moral high grounds being taken over every day and powers beyond your imagination, such as trends, traffic and boredom.
The two opposing armies
Journalists – mostly overworked, tired, frustrated, bored of seeing the same announcement and questions and mistakes over and over again. In control of powerful mass destruction weapons (revealing dozens of spammers in their magazines) or targeted, refined technology (taking it out on a certain individual).
PR professionals - a joint force of company employees and agency staffers; mostly overworked, tired, frustrated, bored of seeing their story dropped for hard to grasp reasons. Wielding powerful weapons such as exclusives, hot stories, tips and inside information
The facts: there are no perfect journalists and there are no perfect PRs. Everyone has made mistakes, several and sometimes repeatedly and that’s how we learn. What both sides lack is more consideration, more patience and a genuine desire to understand the other side.
The big losers of the war
Clients of both sides – advertisers, readers, companies, professionals with a story to tell.
That is the reality people, these are the big losers. The readers that come for great stories to a certain outlet and instead get a more-than-500 words story about how X PR rep has annoyed the journalist to death and it was so much after so long that he just had to tell the world how bad that PR rep was. Oh, and that the company should hire some one else because of a momentary lapse of judgement.
Also, the companies that want their stories told. Some of these stories are great. Some of them are worthy of the outlet’s readers. Yet they never get told either because a PR rep did not do his or her job right or because a journalist is to bitter, bored or tired to dig deep into the list of emails to find the great stories.
The companies and readers pay the price for this long lasting war that I don’t get. And you know why I don’t get it? Because I made so many mistakes over the years as a PR rep and because I saw so many journalists making silly mistakes at the same time. I am sorry to break it to you, but we’re all human and quite imperfect.
How this war should end
Simple! Before pointing the finger to the other side, we should consider our own mistakes. They usually are many. And after analyzing them and seeing the human being inside of us and not the god-like persona we would like to be, maybe we will be able to see the human side of the person we’re so harshly judging in that moment.
Clients are those who matters. Not just those of the PR rep, but also the clients of any publication. They should come first. And because we chose our line of work, we should learn to put them first more often and make sure we work together to have a smooth communication which will benefit them in the end. And it will also benefit us, as we will be less angry, frustrated and ready to take in out on the next person who looks funny to us.
So, dear fellow PRs, take the extra ten minutes to see what a journalist actually writes about and at least customize your email’s first paragraph. Reply on time and try to help out as much as you can. Dear journalists, try to make it clear what you cover or are willing to cover. Dear editors and chiefs and star-journalists, please be more patient with those who fail you. Because sometimes, just sometimes, it’s unclear to tell who covers what or your beat list is severely outdated and a PR professional might rely on you to direct them to the right person.
Just so you know, I have been blogging for years, I have a journalism background and I am a PR professional. I have been on a company’s side and I now run my own agency. I have learned from my mistakes and from those of others and I am still learning everyday. I try to understand both sides and see how it can all be made just a little better.