When I worked as a reporter, my inbox was often bombarded with pitches and press releases that were irrelevant to the kinds of stories I was interested in covering. I remember hearing my former colleagues complaining to each other about PR folks who “just don’t get what is newsworthy.” But then, there were days when the newsroom would sing the praises of a PR person who’d just connected us with a relevant spokesperson for a timely story.
Working in PR now, I’m the one crafting pitches and sharing news under embargo with journalists to get a positive response and secure a story. It didn’t take me long to learn that like journalists, PR professionals have days when they complain to each other about reporters who “just don’t respond to emails.” On the days when a reporter gets back to us with a “Yes, tell me more,” we sing their praises for showing interest in our news. For instance, a reporter I’d long been trying to connect with recently got around to responding to my emails. I knew that his publication and my client could have a mutually-beneficial relationship. Together, we collaborated to connect the reporter with executives at a well-known company, which eventually resulted in an article.
The aftermath of 2016’s presidential election put the spotlight on the mass media in a very negative sense. With President Trump deeming many credible news outlets and reporters as sources of “fake news” and “the most dishonest human beings on earth,” it’s crucial for journalists and PR professionals to fight for the freedom of the independent press. After all, an attack on journalism is an attack on the truth.
Many of us who chose to join the journalism and/or PR world did so because of a shared passion. We are storytellers. We are truth-seekers. We are informers. Both sides work very long, hard hours to meet tight deadlines just to give others a voice and to raise awareness. Trump’s presidency and his attacks on the press should motivate us even more to preserve the media industry. Putting our differences aside, let’s remember that at the end of the day, we – PR professional and journalists – really are on the same team. We collaborate to do good work, and we must continue doing so to ensure the public remains well-informed and educated about the things affecting their lives.