Why journalists should probably be nicer to PR people


I’m an ex trainee journalist, and the latest member of the Whiteoaks family.

Therefore I’ve resided on both sides of the PR/journalist struggle, and here’s what I’ve seen.

As a ‘journo’, sourcing good stories and securing interesting interviews to fill pages is what you strive for, to then move on and then find an angle that is engaging to your audience and run with it until you run out of words.

But before you come to actually doing any writing, you have to comb through a titanic amount of email and other correspondence, while keeping one eye on the news agenda so you don’t miss an opportunity for an article.

As you are probably aware, today there’s a constant storm scrutinising the press’ practises after some questionable tactics from ‘journos’ too desperate to get their story.

It’s also the content coming under stress – the public demand up to date, informative information.

Journalists all over are competing to break their story first, or to have the best article and be featured on the front page.

Therefore you’d think if someone, say a PR executive, dangled a story or interview opportunity in the middle of a news room there would be a mauling.

It’s hard to understand why, but it’s not always the case.

Of course, PR teams are biased towards their clients, but they want coverage.

Coverage, coverage, coverage!

They want to fill all the pages possible with articles about their clients and what they do.

In this spirit, PR executives will often have a story ready for a journo to pick up, anglicised and including sources, on a topic they know is relevant to the publication in question, they will literally go through all the bells and whistles themselves and only pass on content that hits home.

PR execs will also arrange interview opportunities for both parties, plus they’re only a phone call away to give a journalist any extra information.

So conclusively, and objectively, I believe journalists still don’t fully know how to use PR to their advantage.

We understand that in a newsroom, time is precious, it can’t be wasted on anything else but news, so any unfamiliar emails or people asking for favours is automatically swept aside. But what if investing two minutes to engage with a PR professional, achieved a return of a constant stream of articles to use?

This notion should not be swept aside!

Picture it: On a slow news day, the proactive journalist could farm information from PR firms, straight from the horse’s mouth.

That’s a win-win for credibility and relativity, plus the journo gets their story and the PR team gets their coverage.