Few things in this world are truly independent from outside influences. Media relations is no different. As Sietel points out on page 171, “the importance of media to the practice of public relations cannot be denied.” Unfortunately, the relationship between the two fields is somewhat strained due to each vying for the top spot in public outreach and effectiveness. Additionally, the public is already skeptical of the intentions of the media and public relations. Though objectivity is the goal for reporters, it is a rare that they only report the facts. Herein lies the problem- public relations officials perceive the media as interrogative, dumpster-diving sneaks, while the media views public relations professionals as fake, glossy-eyed silhouettes. It is this misconception which Chapter 9 attempts to clear up with a few good habits to keep in mind when dealing with the media as a future public relations professional.

1.       “A reporter is a reporter.” They have the ugly job of digging up the truth, therefore, you are always under scrutiny. Similarly to a court proceeding, anything you say, can and will be used against you.

2.       “You are the organization.” Times have changed considerably from when the public relations official was merely just another face in the crowd. Nowadays, the public relations official is one of the more prominent images associated with an organization. Thinking before one speaks is not an option, but a necessity.

3.       “There is no standard issue reporter.” The concerned public relations official allows the reporter to do his job, just as the reporter does not impede the public relations official’s duties.

4.       “Treat journalists professionally.” In order to foster a positive relationship, both the journalist and public relations official should recognize the fundamental differences which underscore their respective professions.

5.       “Don’t sweat the skepticism.” Being cognizant of the reporter’s duty to report the “news” is the public relations official responsibility. Without this understanding, many of the questions a reporter asks can get under the PR officials nails, causing animosity and cynicism.

6.       “Don’t try to buy a journalist.” In short, bribery doesn’t work, and in the long run, may actually impede the PR – journalist relationship.

7.       “Become a trusted source.” There is no better way to strengthen a PR – journalist relationship than to help the journalist with his/her job. By being a trusted source, the PR official is helping them to do their jobs, and also, helping the organizations image at the same time.

8.       “Talk when not selling.” Keeping the communication pathways open between PR and journalist, even during downtime, can be a key facet to continued positive media coverage.

9.       “Don’t expect news agreement.” While the journalist might believe that his/her story is front page worthy, they do not get the final say; therefore, the public relations official should not be suckered into believing that the story will even be aired or covered.

10.   “Don’t cop a ‘tude.” In my opinion, this is by far one of the most important to remember. First impressions die hard, and in such a give and take relationship, the PR professional cannot afford to be sassy.

11.   “Never lie.” Need I say more?

12.   “Read the paper.” As with many things, it is important to be a student of the game rather than just a player.

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