PR v. Journalists: Fight Club?

While perusing my Facebook stream the other day, I came across this article on Business Insider. Its title alone (What PR People Really Think Of Journalists) told me the article was link bait.

What it didn’t tell me was that in attempting to “end” a decades, if not centuries, old rivalry, is that it would make every public relations pro look like an immature jerk.

For a very long time, public relations has used the media to tell the story of its clients. That’s changed a bit in recent years, thanks to the Internet, but that fact still holds true.

What a segment of this industry apparently doesn’t understand is that bloggers, reporters, commentators, anyone you’d define as a journalist, don’t owe us – PR pros – a damned thing.

Journalists are tasked with defending the best interests of the public. Not getting a client’s story on the front page. It’s just that simple.

I’ve worked both sides of the fence. I’ve pitched and been pitched. I feel confident when I say there are people both professions would be better off without on either side. An article like the one linked above doesn’t put journalists in place. It makes them angry, and far less likely to actually HELP you do your job.

Did you know that newspaper jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate? When there are, let’s say, four reporters in a newsroom to cover a population of 150,000, expecting journalists to drop everything they are doing and cover your story is slightly unreasonable.

For as long as journalism and public relations have existed, there’s been rivalry between them. Journalists generally feel like they hold the moral high ground; PR’s generally feel like they hold the keys to the stories that reporters cover. Animosity and a deep distrust of the other group has taken root because of this.

The truth is that this is a symbiotic relationship and neither can survive without the other. How do you work to bridge the gap between the two sides?

That’s what we should be focusing on.

Image: Polina Sergeeva via Flickr, CC 2.0