Ever since public relations pioneer Ivy Lee created the first press release in 1906, there has been a relationship between PR and the media. The goal of any PR specialist to get their “story” placed prominently among other news stories of the day. Consequently, the PR effort has to be carefully wrapped around something legitimately newsworthy. PR is not effective without a way to get the word out to the public. The relationship between the media and public relations is considerably more complex then it was a hundred years ago. It’s kind of like a relationship with an ex who happens to be your boss. There’s a connection there that’s difficult to separate.
A Complicated Relationship
The relationship between PR and the media can be a sticky one at times. With newspapers cutting staff, press releases are a relatively inexpensive source of material. Some journalists are distrustful of PR agencies. However, the need for content makes it difficult to reject already-prepared content. Many PR agencies, in turn, realize that they can’t do their job effectively without establishing a relationship with the media. Conversely, there are times when a PR firm wants to avoid mention in the media. This effort gets tricky, often falling into shades of grey. The most legit tactic is when a PR agency offers a substitute story, albeit watered down.
Video News Releases
Ever notice how you can look up a news story and see basically the same footage each time? This is not an accident. A video news release or audio news release is a pre-edited video or audio clip dished out to news outlets and online platforms. VNRs tend to be more effective in smaller markets where there isn’t enough staff to go out and get footage. The same is true of radio stations looking to add some flavor to their news breaks. Since video and audio news releases tend be favor one side, news outlets often counter this with comments from other parties involved.
PR and the Social Age
Today, PR is closely tied to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The concept of social media is an ideal fit for public relations. The goal is to get your message out quickly to as many people as possible. There’s no faster information source these days than social media. Another prime advantage of PR via social media is the ability to target the message to a specific audience. Emails, faxes, newspapers, and magazines still have their place, but social media is quickly becoming a desirable outlet.
The relationship between social media and public relations can either be a perfect relationship or a love-hate relationship. PR isn’t going to be effective without a way to get a message out. Media is driven by advertising, making a good relationship with potential advertisers critical. When it comes to press releases as news, it’s a slippery slope. Legitimate news organizations want to avoid the appearance of blatant marketing as news. This makes it important to distribute a message that is relevant. It’s not always an easy balance to find. Nevertheless, the connection between PR and the media isn’t likely to end any time soon.
Guest Author – David Bergin blogs about higher education, including public relations. If you are looking for a career in this field, you might consider applying for a public relations degree at gspmonline.com or usc.edu.