PR Writing Post 3

Part of our job as PR practitioners is media relations. This is a critical component, one which most of you will perform one day. Understanding what the media wants can be tough. Spotting trends and developing newsworthy pitches will be expected. Read “Working with the Media” by Michael Turney and then answer the questions below.

If you need to get started use a three-pronged approach when responding.

  • What did you learn?
  • What surprised you?
  • What do you want to know more about?

  One thought on “PR Writing Post 3

  1. January 28, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Until I read Michael Turney’s post, I never realized just how heavily journalists’ stories and the media rely on content from “public relations people.” I thought it was really interesting to see an actual number behind the amount of media content that comes directly from a PR source (up to 75 percent!). The journalism class that I took discussed a few differences between journalism and public relations from a career perspective, but it wasn’t until I took Intro to PR that I learned of the connection between a journalist and a PR professional, and how necessary that relationship is. Because journalists need to catch new and relevant information and PR professionals need to pitch it to the media, it makes sense that the two need to maintain a positive and mutually beneficial relationship.

    I really liked the section of the post that discussed keeping media relations focused, but it raised a few questions. I’d like to learn more about what Turney meant by PR practitioners “keeping track of their real goals” and “not falling victim to media snobbishness,” and well as what Jon Boroshok mentioned in regards to media relations and PR firms “dropping names of media contacts.” Does this “media snobbishness” relate with a PR practitioner choosing the appropriate media for an organization’s audience?

    I was surprised to hear that organizations may go “year after year with no media contact.” I feel like all organizations, big or small, are constantly dealing with media relations; it seems like even small to medium-sized companies are (or should be) advertising or promoting locally. This was especially surprising since responding to inquiries is the most critical element in media relations.

    I assumed that the size of an organization would mimic the size and role of it’s PR practitioners, but I didn’t realize that media relations could be such an extensive part of a company’s public relations operations. I thought it was interesting to learn that many large newsworthy organizations make media relations a high priority. They employ full-time specialists assigned to national or local media relations, and even designate specialists to cover broadcast, print, trade and consumer media relations. With that said, I really liked the “four ways to build media relationships” techniques at the end of the article; the approach was simple enough to benefit a small organization with much less concern for media relations, but critical enough to impact a large corporation that puts media relations at a top priority.

    • January 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Hay Lauren

      I think a lot of small organizations simply do not have a proper understanding of the media. When the idea of working with the media comes up the first thing that comes to mind is advertising and that leads to questions of cost. When a budget is small and the thought of media brings visions of dollar signs I can see why many may go years with no media contact.

      I have seen many organizations not have a media representative appointed when an inquiry comes in. As a journalist I have reached out to area organizations when working on a story and given up. Having a random person answer my call only not to be sure who I should talk to or have any useable information for me was a missed opportunity. Remember, it is all about deadlines. The journalist is not going to wait a week for the organization to figure out who can, or will, talk. Media will find someone someplace else who is ready now.

      • January 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm

        Ben,
        This is one of the reasons I love that you are in our class. You have written many stories from “the other side” and with that knowledge you are able to help us bridge that gap of thinking like a journalist.
        Your point about not knowing who is going to be on the other end of the phone is a good one. Small organizations I feel would benefit from having someone that is designated to be the “media contact” As the article points out there are many places that do not have this title and that is a shame. I feel for smaller organizations a “media contact” doesn’t have to be anything glamorous but someone who is knowledgeable about the company and the products and services offered. I think by having something like this, it would help journalists like yourself that need to get a source/quote quickly, and it would bring attention to the organization itself.

    • leahprodriguez
      January 29, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Lauren,

      I also learned a bit about the differences between writing for PR and journalists in my journalism course, but was shocked to learn the numbers of contributions we have in the media. I always assumed journalists came up with their own stories and had an unlimited amount of resources resulting in multiple stories per week. The part about the snobbishness confused me as well, and I think what they meant with “dropping names of media contacts,” would be if we dropped names of large companies or organizations to make us look significant or worthy to new clients. Maybe what Turney means is we should stick to our goals in terms of our purpose for our job and not fall into the “big head” aspect? I agree with you when you say you didn’t realize media relations was such a big role in PR, and responding to the media as well. Obviously it is beneficial to know about what is in the media for a company we work with, and now I know its even more important to be able to back up claims or information released to the public.

    • January 30, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Lauren,

      I too was surprised that journalists got so many of their stories from public relations practitioners. It was shocking to see that number. Like you, I got the connection that is between journalists and public relations but never got the importance. This article really showed me how important it is to keep a positive relationship with journalists.

      I was shocked that some organizations go years without any media contact but after reading some of the comments already left on your post it does make sense. Small companies don’t want to put the money into it and I have seen this while working for a nonprofit. I think most companies don’t see how beneficial this is. The hard part is that you don’t see results right away. I have heard people say before we are the ones in the background that don’t get any credit and I now can see why.

      -Sophia

      • January 30, 2014 at 10:50 am

        I was surprised too by how some organizations go without media contact. It’s crucial to get their name out there. But I guess it makes sense that you don’t hear about companies in their beginning stages. You hear about them a few years later when they’ve made enough revenue to afford exposure. PR is very pricey and when a business is starting up, they have to focus more on the product or service than getting exposure for it. It’s a cycle that makes it really hard for businesses to start up, which is why a lot of them never get to the point where they can afford publicity.

  2. January 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I enjoyed reading this and applaud Michael Turney for saying what many journalists never would.

    I have been that reporter sitting in a pitch meeting with the editors having no original story ideas for the week. I however am ready to pitch a handful of stories based on the stack of press releases and information sent in from outside sources.

    In radio, at least back when I was doing it as a full time career, it was this same information from outside sources that kept us behind the microphone sounding like we were all up on the current happenings from around the area.

    I learned that the numbers involving information used by journalists from outside sources, mainly public relations professionals, is much larger than I would have guessed. I know the value of the information in getting the journalists job done first hand but still shocked by the numbers. It gives me some insight on why the income potential between PR and journalism is so different.

    I am surprised to learn much of the information is not focused on audience specific targets. I can appreciate wanting to get your information to the big area media outlets but don’t see a reason to focus exclusively on them. To me it is common sense to add the media top dogs to the press release list but I am going to spend a majority of my time working with the small media outlets of the area.

    I have bookmarked the article and will return to it often to remind myself. Of everything I read the thing I would like to know more about is building the media relationships.

    • January 29, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Ben—

      I was also surprised by the amount of story leads that journalists get from PR professionals. But now that I think about it, it makes sense. Most events going on in the area will come through to a journalist with a press release, and they will use information in the release to find interview sources, etc. I think a lot of journalists might be reluctant to admit how often press releases can be helpful because they don’t want it to come off like they don’t know how to do their job. However, if they are doing their job correctly, then they should have no problem admitting to using a press release because they might start with a press release, but the story requires so much more work beyond that. I recently wrote a story on an event and used the press release for contacts and background information to formulate my questions, but then conducted four interviews. I barely used the press release in my story and referenced it for titles and spellings of names, etc. I think journalists should be more willing to admit that they get story ideas or information from press releases, after all, it’s really just another source when it comes down to it.

      • February 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm

        Chelsea,
        I agree with you that journalists shouldn’t be so reluctant to admit where they are getting their information from. Most of the time, public relations is their biggest source so what’s the harm is saying that? I think it is just ego and want to say that they were the ones who “found” the story and are releasing it instead of just getting the information. I think that any good journalist would have no problem saying where they got their information from because in the end, we are all working together to get the best, most truthful message out to the public. Journalist, public relations, media relations, need to realize that they are working together as a TEAM and that it’s not about them. I think if everyone would set that aside that it would greatly improve how the business is run and it would be more about integrity to the public than the “story.” And like you said you used the press release for a story but then did extra interviews on your own. So, if the journalists really wants to make the story “their own” they could always do a little more digging for themselves. Essentially that would probably make the story better anyways.

    • January 30, 2014 at 8:01 am

      The media snobbishness refers to some PR practitioners who only want to get coverage from elite news outlets – NYT, major networks- CBS, NBC, etc…

      Media relations is a niche area of PR. Some professionals spend entire careers there and become really, really good. Therefore they get to know some top journalists. Some of these professionals begin to name drop to impress other journalists. Which it never does.

    • January 30, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Ben, What do you mean “not focused on target specific audience?”

      • February 4, 2014 at 6:47 am

        From what I understand from the text, not using specific channels your audience uses. Example, I want to get the word out about a boat race. Going to all the media in the area vs finding local publications or broadcast media that deals with boats or boat related stuff.

  3. January 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    I think this article was very insightful. Something that surprised me most about the article was that personal phone calls, direct mail, or visiting a person were considered appropriate channels to use in the PR profession. It shouldn’t be a strange thing to me, but for some reason it is. I understand how it could hypothetically play out, but then I wonder if this is a common practice. It’s also never occurred to me that TV isn’t the best medium for all news. After thinking about it, I realize that most people who watch TV tend to ignore the commercials and there is a huge trend with not watching live TV. Everyone records what they want to watch or just watches it when it’s released online and they probably skip the commercials and ads.
    I feel like I learned a lot about who’s more likely to be featured in media. According to the article smaller organizations aren’t going to be in the media as much as multinational organizations and state & federal agencies. The article made me think about how many times, I read about the board of education in some school district having a press conference or voting on a new policy. I happen to think it’s really annoying and boring, but media coverage for these kinds of events is required. The list of ways to build media relationships were very helpful, especially in helping me understand the calling and visiting channels involved in PR.
    I’d really like to learn more about the specialization involved with media relations. I know the article lists a few kinds of specialists, but I’d love to learn more about them.

    • January 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

      I never thought about how a lot of people record their TV shows nowadays, and how that could be a reason that TV wouldn’t be the best news medium. I think its very true that most people record the shows that they regularly watch so that they can view them when they’re not busy, and be able to fast-forward through commercials as well. Also, Netflix and On Demand have become popular, making the watching of regular TV even lower. Also, I think most people get their news online and that television news isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be. If you pitched a story to a TV news station, your audience might be a lot lower than if you pitched to a news outlet that would publish the story online. However, a lot of TV news stations publish videos or online versions of their stories. Also, TV might work better for your target audience. For example, if you were targeting the elderly, they might be more likely to watch news on TV than read it online. All of the media options that are now available requires a PR professional to be that much more selective in the one that they choose.

      • January 30, 2014 at 10:37 am

        That’s exactly what I thought when I read the article. Of course TV is the best way to get news out to the public, when there are so many ways to avoid watching commercials. I was also thinking that there are news channels (CNN is the only one I can think of) that are constantly giving the public information. I think that would be a good source, if you’re trying to pitch something that could be newsworthy on a national scale.

    • January 29, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      Danita,
      I completely agree with you when it comes to phone calls, direct mail and one-on-one meetings for appropriate PR channels. The reason it seems so odd to me is that is seems so…personal. We “connect” with people in many ways in today’s society but the only people I talk to on the phone are my parents, the only direct mail I send are either birthday or condolence cards and one-on-one meetings sound very personal.
      The more I think about it I do think that they could be great channels to get our word out to different people. If I were a journalist and PR professional wanted to meet with me about a story I would think that they were very interested and devoted to helping me develop my story and I would think that they were passionate enough about their product to show up in person to talk about it.
      I also like the idea of phone calls because sometimes things just don’t translate as well onto paper. I could be so excited to share my idea to a journalist but when sit down and write it, it could sound dry and unappealing. Calling someone up and simply having that enthusiasm in your voice could really help push the idea a little further.

    • January 30, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Does this area of PR interest you at all?

      • January 30, 2014 at 7:03 pm

        I do find this area of PR to be interesting, especially because there are so many different titles withing the media relations area. I assumed media relations was one person doing everything, but now I know that it isn’t. Every time I learn about an area of PR, I automatically assume that it is the area I want to be in forever. I’m sure that really isn’t the case, but I’m hoping that once I start doing internships and actually have some experience in the field I’ll find the area that interest me the most.

    • January 30, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Danita,

      I never thought about what way would be best to contact a journalists. I always thought you would email them since they are so busy. That way they can contact you at their convenience. It does make sense to contact them in different ways depending on the journalists. I agree that different ways of contact might get a different response that we are looking for. Personally I would prefer email but I can see if a journalist is like my mom they would want something more personal that showed you tried to contact them specifically.

      I too agree that it is important to know who you are pitching a story to so that you can choose what channel would be best to take. You are right television is not the best way in all circumstances. However I forgot that most of us don’t watch commercials. You would need to make sure you are aiming for that specific demographic when using television.

      Sophia

      • January 30, 2014 at 10:42 am

        When I read the part about calling people on the phone and visiting them, I automatically freaked out. “Would a complete stranger really want me calling them or popping up in their office?” After thinking about it, I realized that really would be the case. I would’ve already developed some kind of relationship with those that I would have to reach by phone or meet with in person. I also realized that if anyone was doing something like that they’d be doing it on behalf of an organization. So instead of calling and saying “Hi, I’m Danita and I’d like to invite you to an art exhibit.” I’d be saying “Hi, I’m Danita, I’m calling on behalf of this organization and we’d like to invite to an art exhibit.” It’s much less stressful when I think of it that way.

  4. January 29, 2014 at 10:25 am

    While reading Michael Turney’s article, I was surprised to learn that some companies have multiple specialists who work in different areas of media communications for their company. I never considered before how important media relations can be, especially for those companies where, as Turney puts it, “almost every action is newsworthy.” Another point that stood out to me was that some companies must have a PR representative on-call 24 hours a day. I think this really demonstrates how important a company’s representation in the media is to their success and reputation. If something goes wrong in a major company, the public expects these companies to make a statement to the media, and as quickly as possible.

    In my opinion, the most important part of Turney’s article was his discussion of the focus of media relations. It is important for a company to realize that not every news outlet is going to work for their specific audience, even if it is the most reputable or the most widely known outlet. If you pitch to the wrong media outlet, they are less likely to take on your story idea, and if they do, then that story is less likely to reach your target audience because that audience simply isn’t engaging with the news outlet that you pitched to.

    Another good point that Turney made was that even though a company might have very limited contact with the media and not require a full-time media relations specialist, they still need to be prepared to work with the media because something will eventually happen that will require them to do so. This goes along with having a PR representative who is able to respond to media inquiries. Turney states that even companies who choose to engage in no other media relations activities must still have someone to respond to media inquiries. I definitely think that this is an important point. A company might have never received a media inquiry before, so they neglected to designate someone to handle these inquiries. Then, what happens when they do get a media inquiry for the first time? They might get stumped and panic, not knowing who should handle the inquiry, or they might pass the inquiry off to an employee that is not knowledgable enough to handle it. Both of these scenarios could result in bad representation by the media and give off the idea that you are ill-prepared or unprofessional as a company.

    I would like to learn more about writing a strong media pitch. Specifically, I would like to learn how to promote your story without it being obvious or overshadowing the story itself. I would also like to learn how to decide which news outlets are best to pitch your story to.

    • leahprodriguez
      January 29, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      Chelsea,

      I agree with you that the most important part is the focus of media relations. As PR professionals, it is our job to help a client determine what is appropriate for their target audience. Without the proper integration in the right media outlet, the message or purpose will not be accurately conveyed. I believe it is important as well to have a representative on hand when they do find the need for media inquires. In my mind it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so allowing yourself to be prepared for any situation is appropriate. I want to learn about how to write media pitches as well, and understand the difference in techniques and format for this type of writing. As I stated in my post, I want to learn how to effectively decide which outlets to use for a variety of organizations. This will help us to narrow our decisions based on the target audience and also how to respond to inquires after a story is released.

      • January 31, 2014 at 3:17 pm

        I definitely agree with you that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Especially in the world of PR where you are dealing with a company’s image and reputation.

    • January 30, 2014 at 8:09 am

      I can remember carrying around my BB and answering calls from media reps at 11 or 12 at night. Weekends too. The media never stops. And now with social media if something happens on a social channel a PR person has to be on task to respond.

      • January 31, 2014 at 3:15 pm

        It’s crazy but true! I see most major companies out there posting on social media around the clock.

    • January 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      I agree that it was a surprise that there are multiple specialists involved with media relations. I happen to like that there is some division in the responsibility because I’m better at some things than I am at others. I’m perfectly fine talking to people, writing pitches & releases, constantly replying to emails and making phone calls. I think the social media aspect of media relations would be difficult for me. I only go on social media sites when i get bored and I don’t check them that often. I’ve been trying to be consistent with the Twitter that I created, but no such luck.

      • January 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

        I think the hardest part about social media is coming up with content. You’re supposed to be constantly engaging your audience and that can be challenging, especially when you have to try to predict the types of posts that they will find interesting.

    • January 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      Reading what you said about all companies eventually needing PR management got me thinking these organizations are a good market for PR firms for recruiting.

  5. leahprodriguez
    January 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Before reading “Working with the Media,” I wasn’t aware of the large use journalists have for public relations practitioners. I always understood there was a relationship between the two parties, but the amount of input shown by the statistics was shocking. This really shows how much journalists and public relations practitioners rely on one another for media coverage.

    I learned about the differences with small and large organizations and their need for media relations; how a smaller organization are unlikely to attract attention of the media, and large organizations require attention on practically everything they do. It makes me wonder, at what point does a growing company seek out help with media relations.

    I was surprised that there are some companies that have multiple people focusing on different types of the media, like broadcast, local and national, and consumer media. These companies “are likely to have large public relations operations,” which will better prepare them in times of need. It will also give the company a chance to get their news out to anyone and everyone who is interested. I liked how Turney pointed out the importance of targeting audiences and deciding the most effective way of reaching them in the media.

    Something I wasn’t aware of before reading the article is the ability to respond to the media. Having an accessible spokesperson that is well informed to answer questions is just as important as the original information itself. Without the right preparation, it may be difficult to correctly represent the company or organization they work for.

    I am curious to learn what companies are considered media worthy and at what point in production. It will be beneficial to me in the future so I can determine what would be deemed important for society to be informed about, and at what form of the media.

    • January 30, 2014 at 8:12 am

      This is a quote I included in my book about the urgency of responding to journalists. I think this really illustrates the fact that one missed call is a missed opportunity.

      “I carry my Blackberry and, like an addiction, must check it every few minutes; not to do so can mean missed media opportunities, or worse, a newswire quote which reads, ‘couldn’t be reached for comment’—which occurred recently when I didn’t call a reporter back within an hour. The journalist also expected instant gratification, and when I finally did call back, it had already appeared on more than 80 websites. Is this indeed life today?”
      – Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5W Public Relations, in Bulldog Reporter

      • January 30, 2014 at 11:20 pm

        I don’t necessarily love being tethered to phone and internet. I will go without my phone or internet for few hours or even a few days at a time and really enjoy the freedom. I know working in PR means I will have to cut down my no technology time but will have to give it up all together? or are there ways I can get away with going off the grid every once in a while without my work suffering?

        -Andrew

  6. January 29, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I really enjoyed reading, Working with the Media. There are many good points and things to think about as a Public Relations Professional. The largest key point that I learned from this article was that reaching for the largest news outlets isn’t always beneficial for you and the company you are representing. I can see how it can be misconstrued. We want to get our word out and have our message reach as many people as possible. These huge media outlets are the quickest way for this to happen but we have to remember that everyone else is vying for the same coverage. I think that as a PR professional we have to reach out to many different outlets, large and small to ensure our message will actually be heard.
    There were a lot of things that I found surprising. I had no clue that such a high percentage of content we see comes from public relations efforts. Another thing that was surprising to me was that many organizations may not have newsworthy stories to share (although Gina may have a different opinion on that). When I think of Public Relations efforts my mind immediately goes to a big conglomerate or large corporation but I have to remember that many people do not work for huge organizations like those mentioned in the article.
    I would love to learn more about how to appropriately grow a successful media contact list. I cannot see how you begin a relationship with a journalist that can last over time. If I send an idea to 50 journalists maybe one of them pick up my story—if I am lucky. The next time I try to pitch an idea to a journalist do I sent it to the same 50 and then 50 more? I guess I am unsure about the process and would love to know more about building and sustaining lasting relationships with journalists.

    • January 30, 2014 at 12:39 am

      The media list is something that I struggle with too. I think part of the goal isn’t to send it to such a huge amount of journalists. From what I understand, it’s best to target specific ones and send it to a small bunch but make it the right people. I feel as though the higher amount of people that you send it to, the lower the chance that they’ll actually care.
      As for building a relationship with the journalists, I remember something Gina said in a previous class I had with her. Sometimes you have to watch what the journalists cover and send information to them that may not concern your company/brand. It helps to build a genuine relationship when they see that although you want them to give you coverage, you also care about them as journalists and what to have their backs when it comes to different coverage as well.

      • January 30, 2014 at 10:37 am

        I feel that as a PR practitioner, you have to be very selective about who you send your releases to. It looks bad on you for a journalist to pick up your story and find out that you sent it to 50 other ones, and 20 took it. It could get you “blacklisted” from that paper, with the mentality, “well, they have so many other contacts.” Burning bridges isn’t something that you want to do in life, especially not in the field of public relations, when much of your job depends on the bridges you build with colleagues and journalists.

  7. January 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I realize that I knew a lot of the topics that Michael Turney covered in his article, but I only know them at a surface level. I knew journalists relied on PR practitioners for stories but until the numbers are right in front of me, I had no idea how intense it really was. It’s interesting to note that not only do the majority of the stories come from the PR world, but many of them are taken verbatim.

    I also found it interesting that even after all this time, people still believe that the method of delivery that is in trend right now is the best. That’s so untrue. Even as popular as Twitter is, companies need to realize that it works for a specific audience. I’m always a bit taken back to learn that it’s still a thing for companies to reach out in whatever way even though it may not accurately reach their audience.

    It was also was eye opening to realize how larger PR departments can be. I’ve known for a while that some places are so small that they lacy a PR person or they simply have an individual who does all the work. I don’t think I’ve put much thought into how large they can be. When the article touched on how specialized a person can be, I found it really interesting. That really surprised me to know that if can go from national specialization and local specializing or even down to print media and trade media specialists.

    I guess there are two things that I would like to learn more about. I would like to learn more about the types of specialization that can happen within larger PR department. I would also like to learn more about responding to media inquiries and even getting news out to the media. Obviously you can’t send the same press release to 100 media places, but how do you keep a solid relationship with all of the ones that you may need?

    • January 30, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      I think you made some great points and I am also interested in learning about the types of specialization within a PR department. In JRNL 312, my professor told us that she worked in employee relations, which was part of the PR department and I think that’s a very interesting position. It’s more interesting because they consider it part of the PR division and the fact that a large organization would have a position that focuses on the happiness of their employees is shocking (and amazing).

      • February 1, 2014 at 9:28 pm

        Danita,

        I don’t think I’ve ever been interested in employee relations, because I always saw it as more of an internal communications position—which, in my mind, translated to “This is stressful.” With a better understanding now of what it means to be involved with an organization on every level, I definitely see the value of the position. An organization’s human resources department is useless without having someone within the organization to communicate the organization’s goals within. As a PR student I often focus so much on the media relations and external communications functions of PR that I forget about the internal ones!

        -Lydia

  8. January 30, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I’ve only learned the basics of the inner workings of a company’s PR department. You have agency PR, nonprofit PR, organization PR, et cetera. But I didn’t realize that though companies may have a PR department, how extensive that department may be. Turney pointed out that there may be one specialist in broadcast media, one specialist in broadcast media and such. I guess it makes sense, especially with giant companies like Apple, who when they get press, they get A LOT of press. It’s a good division of labor.

    I was surprised by how much journalists rely on PR practitioners for information. A lot of lot of Turney’s evidence was outdated, though, with the most recent being from 1999, and we all know how much the news industry has changed just in the past few years, let alone the past decade and a half. But regardless, PR clearly has a big impact on journalism.

    I want to know more about the focus of different media relations. Do PR practitioners focus on the same aspects of a product or a service for each media outlet? Or is it relative to the audience or the outlet? I guess this is more of a focus of the PR department in the bigger companies, like the ones I mentioned at the beginning. Do those companies have a certain agenda that they’re trying to push or is it more of a personalized thing?

    • January 30, 2014 at 12:49 am

      I wrote about the PR departments in my comment too. It’s odd to think that sure, we have different sectors, but it’s even odder when you begin to realize that there can be so many specializations within one company’s PR department. With the breakdown of broadcast, print, and trade, it really blows my mind to see how focused one position could be. I wonder if that would ever get boring or if the company is so huge that there is always something to do in each specialization. As consumers, we see the press that a company gets but we don’t sit back and think about all of the people that work to get the right exposure.
      I’m glad you pointed out how outdated his information is because I don’t think I even realized it. The statistical numbers really stood out but it’d be nice to see how those facts stand compared to more recent years. PR has made such huge steps forward but with social media maybe the journalists doesn’t need the practitioner as much as they once did.

    • January 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      Carmen,
      I noticed, too, that the statistics and evidence that Turney provided was outdated; I’m not sure when the article was written (the author is copyrighted in 2002, but the bottom of the webpage says October 2011), but he provided one set of results from a 1999 survey (which is definitely outdated, yes), and he didn’t discuss social media (which, today, is always mentioned in any related to the media, news, public relations and/or journalism). Regardless of when the surveys were conducted, I think his purpose was just to further illustrate his overall objective. The focus of media relations also caught my attention, and I’m also looking forward to learning more about that part of PR.
      PR practitioners are focused on their client (the group or organization that employs them) writing for advocacy instead of objectivity, as we’ve learned. In regards to your question- whatever message or information that the PR practitioner is trying to articulate has to be tailored to fit the audience’s interests, needs, and concerns, through the most effective means of communication (media outlet). The overall message should remain the same regardless of the types of media used, and the audience should also determine the media outlet.
      -Lauren

    • February 4, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Carmen,

      I definitely didn’t realize how much of a “business” public relations can be too because I always think of it almost as like the voice of the people who is there to give us the answers. I also didn’t realize that public relations and media relations were even different because I guess I just figured that they did the same thing. But you have a point that a bigger company would need them separated because of the mass amounts of press and media that certain companies attract. But all in all even if they do get a lot of press essentially it still all comes back to public relations who is providing the information and the media relations person is carrying out the message and “dealing” with the public and press. I also agree with the outdated information. This is 2014 not 1999 and public relations is bigger than ever. I don’t think that certain companies have an “agenda” I think that their main focus is that they are always perceived in the best possible light from the public. Another thing I wonder though is the actual specifics like you said of the media relations. If there are so many different sides to public relations than there must be different sides to media relations. I would like to know more specific examples of what exactly each person does for the job and what makes them so different or similar. I think the biggest difference though is that the media relations person is constantly dealing with the public where as the public relations person only sometimes does depending on the company.

  9. January 30, 2014 at 8:37 am

    It surprised me that most of the news stories come from public relations professionals. I didn’t realize how much of an impact we have on what stories are going to be ran. It is refreshing that this is true. I think if used in the correct way sending out news releases are very helpful.

    I liked that it talked about using news sources that aren’t always the most obvious. It says to get the smaller papers and I thought this was good advice. It also addresses the problem public relation practitioners have. They tend to send stories out to news sources that aren’t ideal for their situation. Just because it is a large newspaper doesn’t mean your story is good for them. You have to pick and choose your battles and when you do send it to the bigger news sources make it worth it and something they have to run. You don’t want the journalist to become immune to your contact and this can happen if you are sending so many that don’t pertain to what they are writing for.

    I like the quote that is written at the end. I think this is very good advice. We talked a little about this in my Intro to PR class and it was said that the media never stops. I want to be able to remember this when a reporter is asking me question. Im sure it is frustrating to answer question about a subject that isn’t the best for your company but you have to learn how to handle that. I think this is what I would like to know more about would be crisis control.

    -Sophia

    • January 30, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      I like what you say about communication between journalists and PR practitioners working as a two way street. It seems like the hardest part will be establishing a trust based relationship by proving to the Journalist that the perception of PR people as, at best, biased and at worst, trying to manipulate them.

      I also enjoyed the quote at the end. 🙂

      -Andrew

  10. January 30, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I learned how far selective distribution of information as a trend has pervaded into all aspects of the industry, and changed the way the industry goes about those aspects. In particular, the press release. The article mentions how press releases are changing from blanket information put out in the hopes that a media outlet will pass along said information to its audience, to a component of relationship marketing. The trend towards selective marketing and by extension targeted efforts in public relation isn’t surprising, it makes sense to focus our efforts the publics that are actually relevant to the industry we represent.

    Coming from journalism classes and being someone who prides himself on getting news from news sources that are free of bias I was very surprised to find the percentage of news stories that come directly from PR efforts.

    I would be interested in hearing more about the percentage of media that comes from PR efforts, for example what does the breakdown of news stories coming from PR efforts by news section look like? I have to imagine that the business section is more PR driven than the international news section. I’d be interested in more information on matching media outlets to your industry, which outlets give the most milage for which industries? Where can we access information on media outlets relative to a target audience of a specific business or do we need to do that research ourselves?

    • February 1, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Andrew,

      I also had the same questions about media outlet effectiveness based on organizations’ or industries’ nature. When I worked in development at a nonprofit foster care agency, all media outlets contacted us through personal meetings and phone calls. This makes me wonder if different outlets prefer to be contacted in different ways? At my internship last summer, I found that when working with community organizations, follow-through with communication and commitments was much more consistent when initial contact was made face-to-face. I’m a huge fan of interpersonal relationships, so I would much rather give a reporter a call or meet them before simply pitching a story to them. Electronic communication is more efficient than calling, but it may not be as effective at communicating a full message. I’m interested to know how you, as a journalist, would personally prefer to communicate with a PR professional about a potential story?

      -Lydia

  11. February 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    This article really opened my eyes to what the public relations world looks like in for-profit businesses. All of my work and internship experiences have been involved in the not-for-profit sector of business, so I rarely see the more aggressive and competitive side of PR. The article talked about businesses targeting news outlets that reach their target audience. For my nonprofit work, name-dropping and some of the other “snobbish” attitudes that the article talked about were unfamiliar to me, because all of the outlets that I worked with are small city community newspapers, television stations, and radio stations.

    In my experience as a media consumer, I’ve always noticed the importance of specific events, situations, or crises. However, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the newsworthiness of organizations themselves. From this article I learned that organizations’ news value is often completely dependent upon the nature of the organization. Businesses of a low-risk nature typically provide a more routine or stable good or service, which according to the article, just isn’t newsworthy.

    I found myself wondering what it would take for a small organization to become newsworthy on a larger scale without requiring a complete crisis. It seems nearly impossible when the organization may not even have a PR professional on staff, let alone an entire department. Social media seems like the most effective way for an organization or its mission to be noticed because organizations have the ability to interact with their consumers without the need for a middleman. However, as an employee at a not-for-profit business, I dream of having my cause nationally recognized. I wonder how often the situation Dr. Luttrell talked about in class, where she called in a story to a journalist based on a national trend and got national coverage, could happen?

  12. February 4, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    When I first read this article I was a little confused with what exactly the difference was between media relations and public relations. So to get a better understanding I had to get Google-ing. What I found was that the line is so close because they both deal with mass communications. The biggest difference though was that a public relations person will do more than just deal with the media. We essentially “do it all” and the public needs us more than they think. “Researchers consistently find that a high percentage of news stories originate from public relations input.” After reading this article I truly realized how important PR is and that journalists really rely on us to get their lead. Even if they change the words around a little bit, it still is essentially “our story” because we are the resource. Thus, “Media relations should be a mutually beneficial two-way street.” We both can benefit each other and that is the importance of working together. This is why the relationships we build are so important and we need to make sure that we do everything we can to build those relationships. Your reputation is also something that you should never tarnish so if you are going to give someone an “exclusive” make sure that someone else is not getting it too. Otherwise, your reputation and relationship with the media will be ruined and no one will trust your word anymore. Another point that the article made was that sometimes you will go some time without dealing with media relations but that you need to be prepared because there will always be a time when you need to jump in and respond. “No comment” is never an acceptable answer to the media. “When public relations practitioners remember to look at their goals and interests through the eyes of the media and the media’s audiences, and when they use these insights to relate to the media people with whom they work, media relations is one of the most effective ways to enhance an organization’s public relations. It’s a cost-effective way of reaching large and varied audiences and, insofar as those audiences are relevant to the organization, it pays big dividends.” With this in mind, you really need to put yourself in the shoes of the public in order to relate to them as well as the media. That is why the relationships are truly the most important thing you have which is why they are called public RELATIONS and media RELATIONS. Everything you put out to the public is going to be perceived a certain way so the more honest and truthful you can be the more respect and trustworthiness you will gain. I think that this article really opened my eyes to how much honing your craft is so important and that you need that real life experience in order to be the best you can be in public relations as well as media relations. We need to always be over prepared and ready to drop everything in order to produce the best story.

  13. February 5, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    This video passionately speaks to the necessity of public relations professionals to work with the press. Though we may not want to admit it, journalists and PR pros always seem to have a love-hate relationship. Journalists can’t stand the way PR people spin stories to the advantage of the organization that they are working for. Public relations practitioners also seem to engage in what the textbook calls “shotgun distribution,” where they pitch any story to any journalist without regard to beat, simply to get the news coverage. However, PR professionals seem to be constantly frustrated with journalists’ consistent sense of entitlement. Journalists seem to expect PR people to respond to their beck and call, which, to be frank, gets pretty annoying and can cause what the textbook refers to as “blacklisting.”

    The social press seems to be similar to journalists in the way they constantly need information. If anything, they have a more regular and consistent need for information depending on the size and nature of the organization they work for. However, there are some differences between the work of journalists and that of bloggers. The textbook refers to bloggers as “citizen journalists;” a blogger’s work will require them to use more voice and opinion in their writing. When working with bloggers, it’s necessary to show them how writing a story on your organization “can bring value to them.” Bloggers’ focus is on their readership and how they can effectively engage them. So for PR practitioners planning to pitch to them, paying attention to their audiences and their overall tone is key.
    Even though the overall goals of our work may be different, working with the media in all aspects is a skill that every PR professional needs to have. Media relations wouldn’t exist without both sides.

  14. February 20, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I also had no clue how much of the news comes from PR. It makes sense, but that percentage is insane. In Intro and in this class we talk a lot about protecting relationships with journalists and how sometimes we have to tread lightly in a sense to not upset them. It seems to me that they should have just as much reverence for their relationship with us. I know that we are incredibly dependent on the media to send our messages, but from what I’ve been told, the respect is a little one sided when they get that much content from PR.

    I was surprised by companies having specific media relations people even entire media relation teams. I have always thought of media relations as an aspect of PR that everyone should be comfortable with so the idea of specialists completely slipped my mind.

    I’m really interested in how to write pitches. Like I said in the first blog post, I have difficulty finding a good angle. With journalists getting so much content and sourcing ideas from PR I can see how important it is to be able to set up a story to pitch.

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