By Leigh Andrews
In previous months, I have written about how PR differs
from marketing and the relationship
between PR and the media. This month, I will focus specifically on how the media industry operates, because despite the fact that a basic overview of it is given in tertiary education, the industry’s actual mechanics are often a surprise to those who only deal with it from the outskirts.
Both marketing and PR spread messages and are intricately related to ‘media relations’, but that’s where the similarity ends. While marketing and advertising both appear in the media because the material is paid for, publicity is generated because the subject has earned the space or time. This generally means that the information is relevant to the specific content mandate of the media house and the PR officer has successfully pitched
the content based on a good relationship that has been built. The journalist may have also signed up for a press release delivery platform such as MyPressOffice
, which lets you choose the specific topics you would like to find out more about. As I wrote previously, there’s also unexpected publicity, which is unsolicited or given without any effort on the part of the PR officer if the journalist stumbles across the content of their own accord and deems it worthy of inclusion or investigation. This would obviously be unexpected on the part of the public relations officer, as they did nothing to initiate the coverage. Then again, there are a number of barriers to making this relationship
beneficial all round. Public relations officers send repeated, irrelevant press releases on to the media, while journalists don’t bother to get back to PRs to let them know whether they will be using the information. A whole new can of worms is opened when exclusive content is pitched, and frustrations
tend to run high in news rooms and publicity offices alike when there is a certain expectation that a press release will be used and isn’t. This is because the media often gets exclusive scoops or additional information from the PR industry. There are sometimes last minute editorial gaps to fill when advertising is pulled or an original article is not approved in time, which explains why PR content is sometimes slotted in when it was initially turned down.
News reporting is fraught with many problems itself – these range from remaining objective and impartial to the topic and avoiding the inclusion of bias, to knowing how far is too far to push your opinion as a columnist and then dealing with flak from your audience (hello David Bullard, Kuli Roberts and the like), and knowing how to respond when you’re asked to run the story past your interviewee before it is published (this is generally a big no-no as the interviewee often wants to change the writing style and not just the facts, even if this is specified.) It’s quite a lot to keep in mind – if you want to delve a little deeper into the implications, read Chris Vick’s recent Business Day article
on certain ethical challenges faced by journalists.
It’s no easier in the entertainment/features/magazine world, with Vanessa Raphaely writing on her blog
that “deadlines are not a magazine editor’s friend”, as she explains the difficulties of producing print publications with their “pesky, long deadlines” that mean “a huge story might appear to omit the most crucial, up-to-date details” if they break before the magazine appears on shelves but after it has been sent to the printers. But that’s a story for another article. Once information has been sourced and (hopefully) curated
, it is put together as an article or news snippet, checked by a team of sub-editors and put out into the world. Consumers then hear or see the broadcast or read the article, and with the popularity of word-of-mouth
, readership and listenership figures rapidly increase. The topic is then often discussed on social media platforms like Facebook
. Then, word of the final product is spread to the public through many forms of marketing. So in the media world, PR tends to provide information that may be used as part of the publication or broadcast station’s content, advertising is a way to finance the platform and keep it running, while marketing raises awareness about the media and its own news and initiatives.
All media mentions, especially from a PR perspective, are then monitored
and analysed, if the client requests, to ascertain the exact type of coverage received. And there you have it – this is a very simplified account of how the media operates. You can send your experiences through to us on email@example.com