Quote of the Week: PR and the News

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(May 1, 2006) This somewhat lengthy quotation is taken from a March 20 article in one of the major publications of the public relations industry called PR Week. The author, Hamilton Nolan, was writing about “The State of The News Media 2006,” a major report on the U.S. media industry that was released by the Project for Excellence in Journalism last month [See the Daily Planet articles elsewhere in the media section for more on this report.] The article (entitled “PR Pros Can Aid Overworked Journalists”) notes that the “workload crunch that individual reporters say they’re feeling is part of the widely noted economic pressures facing journalism as a whole.” Taking off from there, here are four of the most telling paragraphs from the PR Week story:

“Not surprisingly, into the maw of overworked journalists and reticent corporate owners comes the PR industry. The simple fact is that the less staff a newsroom has, the less time a reporter has to devote to gathering news, and the more receptive a reporter is likely to be to a PR pitch. In this sense, the ‘state of the media’ is ‘overworked,’ and ready to hear about your client’s ‘exciting new program.’

“Jonathan Capehart, a former head of the editorial page at the New York Daily News who is now a [senior vice president] for [PR firm] Hill & Knowlton, says the report heralds an opportunity for ‘crafty’ PR pros to deliver complete, top-to-bottom story ideas.

“‘Because reporters are so stressed for time and for ideas, the PR person who can give the reporter a complete package, if you will, is the PR person who stands a greater chance of piquing that reporter’s interest,’ he says…

“Reporters themselves would undoubtedly chafe at the idea that friendly PR pros are happy to step up and do their jobs for them. But deadlines are deadlines, word counts are word counts, and Happy Hour at the bar next door to the newspaper’s office ends at 8 p.m. sharp. The Project for Excellence in Journalism may have unwittingly signaled the beginning of a new ‘Project for Excellence in Media Relations,’ which will offer tired journalists an increasingly tempting crutch.”

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