It sometimes seems like journalists are from Mars and PRs are from Venus, to coin a phrase.
To journalists, PRs can seem like an obstacle in the way of getting to the truth, and PRs sometimes have to deal with grumpy under-pressure newshounds who don’t like to let the facts get in the way of a good story.
This tension between poachers and gamekeepers has been a rich source of stories for Press Gazette over the years (see selection below).
But does it have to be this way? Perhaps frictions could be eased if journalists and PRs understood each other better?
With this in mind, Press Gazette has teamed up with PR Week to launch a survey finding out what journalists and PRs think of each other.
It takes just a few minutes to fill out and as an incentive we are offering a pair of tickets to either the British Journalism Awards or the PR Week awards as a prize. We will publish the results some point this summer.
Questions asked include:
- Are the PRs/journalists you come across up to the job?
- Are they polite and respectful?
- Do they understand me?
There’s no denying that while the number of journalists is shrinking, the PR industry continues to grow.
Press Gazette has made numerous attempts to count the number of press officers at the BBC. Unfortunately none of the up to 200 communications staff there are able to provide an answer.
Last year Press Gazette Freedom of Information requests revealed that local councils now employ at least 3,400 PR and comms staff, at a time when the number of local journalists holding councils to account is falling fast.
Older journalists may hanker for a simpler age when the PR gatekeepers weren’t around. Many feel that the public is less well served when there is a barrier in place stopping state employees being directly held to account.
But in terms of efficiency, one has to admire big press offices like the Met Police which handle hundreds of enquiries a day and can often deal with routine questions far more quickly than would have been possible in the ‘good old days’.
And most journalists would also have to admit that some good stories come from press releases, or from tips by PRs.
Journalists and PRs undoubtedly need each other. Hopefully this survey will help out two industries understand each other a little better.