PR vs. journalism: Time to end the rivalry

Journalists and PR pros have battled each other for decades. It’s time to stop the madness and focus on more important things, this author recommends.


While perusing my Facebook stream the other day, I came across an article called “What PR people really think of journalists.” The title alone told me the article was link bait.

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

Public relations uses the media to tell its clients’ stories. That has changed a bit in recent years thanks to the Internet, but the fact still holds true. What some PR pros apparently don’t understand is that bloggers, reporters, commentators and anyone else you could define as a journalist don’t owe PR pros a darn thing.

Journalists defend the best interests of the public. It’s not a journalist’s job to put your client’s story on the front page.

I’ve worked both sides of the fence. I’ve pitched and been pitched. I’ve seen people in both journalism and PR who would help their profession by leaving it. An article like the one above doesn’t put journalists in place. It makes them angry, and far less likely to help PR pros do their jobs.

Newspaper jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate. When there are, say, four reporters in a newsroom to cover a population of 150,000, it’s unreasonable to expect those journalists to drop everything and cover your story.

For as long as journalism and public relations have existed, there has been a rivalry between them. Journalists generally feel they hold the moral high ground, and PR pros generally believe they hold the keys to reporters’ stories. These feelings cause animosity and a deep distrust between the professions.

Public relations and journalism share a symbiotic relationship; neither can survive without the other. How do we work to bridge the gap?

Matt LaCasse manages social media for KimberMedia and blogs at MattLaCasse.com. A version of this article originally ran on Waxing Unlyrical.

Topics: PR

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