Public relations must understand the world of journalism
Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying one of our not-for-profit client’s Naomi Steer from Australia for UNHCR into the Channel Ten studio as part of the launch for a world-first education initiative called Here & There. It’s not every day you get to see the inner workings of a live television studio but it’s always fascinating to see what happens behind the TV screens.
That sort of experience is invaluable as a PR practitioner as it helps you understand how things work on the other side. When it comes to media relations, and providing relevant content for reporters, our role is to understand how to package content, know who will be most interested in it, and how to get it to them. Otherwise, we’re missing a trick.
And this doesn’t just relate to TV. Who’s ever been inside a newspaper office, or sat in a radio studio at some point learning how live interviews happen? This sort of exposure is vital to our proficiency in the public relations profession.
I was talking with good friend and fellow PRINKer Scott Rhodie recently about this matter. As a professional who came through the ranks of journalism at London’s The Sun, a number of public relations firms, and now digital strategy, Scott is a guy who understands all sides of, over and under the fence of the communications world.
His main concern about practitioners today is that they simply don’t get it. If we spend all day at our desk or on the phone, how will we ever know what our journalist counterparts are going through when we pick up the phone to discuss an idea? We must, for the benefit of our careers and clients, understand how things operate in newsrooms, TV studios and radio station hallways.
Almost two years ago, that was the very premise behind setting up PRINKS: connecting with other like-minded communications professionals hoping to learn more about all sides of comms, not just PR. A chance to chat and see how the world works through their eyes.
I love the fact that I’ve made some great friends through this group – PRs, journalists, advertisers, digital folk.
But this is only part of the understanding process; a social drink every month or so won’t help you prepare a client for a live radio broadcast. What it will do is help you to think differently.
There is a world outside client work and it’s one that you should take the time to learn and discover. By understanding the processes and intricacies, not just content, of media – that is what will separate you from other enthusiastic practitioners.