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Nowadays, most of the information we absorb is through social media. The virtual web is almost like a parallel entity that accompanies humanity through life. Because of their efficiency, social apps, websites, blogs, and forums have become a highway for all data types. Nonetheless, they can also allow misinformation to arrive at millions of people in a matter of seconds.
Usually, Public Relations (PR) specializes in establishing relationships between corporations, associates, and customers by using social tools. Nevertheless, journalism is also one of the elements that contribute to the increasing misinformation online. More specifically, it’s the antagonist relationship between PR and journalism that causes issues.
This article will discuss how stopping misinformation means fixing the relationship between journalism and PR.
What is PR?
As previously mentioned, PR aims to form connections between organizations and the public. The PR specialists have highly developed communication skills and try to help businesses engage customers more. They also strategically make sure that the products or services represented are advertised correctly. To tie everything, the main objective of PR is to make a particular business appealable through its public and media representation.
What is journalism?
Journalism focuses on writing news for magazines, papers, websites, and other means of communication. Essentially, it focuses on gathering information, revising it, and creating a document that can be broadcasted online, on the radio, on the news, and so on.
How journalism and PR used to work together
Initially, PR was born after journalism, out of the necessity to spread information more efficiently. Public Relations used to depend on journalism because PR only helped convey the message. Journalists provided coherent articles that were systematic and offered a myriad of perspectives. This inspired readers to discern and learn the difference between biased and objective.
PR would stimulate journalism to find exciting topics for their readers. Meanwhile, PR specialists would work with journalists to encourage people to consider certain brands without being invasive.
This quintessential relationship between the two stands at the basis of the communication system, and, ideally, there should be a steady balance.
How they work now
Today, the roles have switched, and journalism depends on PR to subsist. Part of the reason is the increased number of businesses engaging in marketing strategies because they wish to succeed. For instance, they don’t use simple names like bestbuys.com or uk.bestessays.com. Instead, they heavily advertise on different platforms to make sure more people heard about them.
Many agencies employ social platforms to convince people to buy their products and use news outlets to advertise their brand. As a result, many news outlets mix facts with fantasy to push their personal agenda and sponsors’ goods.
However, this doesn’t mean that agencies shouldn’t advertise themselves. It just means that there is an imbalance between what is factual and what is just marketing.
The issues of PR dominance
The public is affected the most by the PR dominance because information becomes a slave to the market. So, it’s increasingly more challenging to trust sources and build an opinion. Also, valuable and creative topics get pushed back because they’re not as profitable as others. This affects the choices and thoughts of clients, who may fall easily into marketing traps.
Here are some of the ways PR takes over journalism:
1. PR doesn’t simply consult broadcasting outlets anymore; it employs them fully. This means that PR reaches out to newspapers and sets up sponsorships between the media platform and brands. So, businesses get to determine which are the best stories to tell according to their terms. Meanwhile, journalists have to shape their content to suit the niche of clients of their sponsors to make up for decreasing viewer rates.
2. Helpful information is pushed in the background. How many times we’ve heard about progress made in the scientific field in a Tweet with a couple of thousand likes? Chances are you’ve stumbled upon exciting information randomly because many people try to fight the PR phenomenon and share news that regards everyone. But why don’t significant news outlets report those findings? The answer is PR. Many of those broadcasting companies are busy covering less interesting news that can help them push their sponsors forward.
3. PR encourages astroturfing. This practice consists of popularizing a story by buying likes. This way, PR companies get to bring a story to the front line without necessarily persuading or sponsoring news agencies. They spread the story in function of their brand list.
4. They manufacture stories from scratch by hiring freelancers, essay writers, and other professionals. Independent journalists are a blessing to the market, but sometimes big companies will manipulate them to build their news sources with their own narrative.
How can we fix the relationship between journalism and PR?
Although PR took a toll on journalism in the past couple of years, it’s still a fundamental part of our world. Through PR, many brands, including your own, can thrive and satisfy more customers. Nevertheless, the two elements need to work as equals.
Here are some of the steps towards a better PR-journalism balance.
1. Local news and independent broadcasting companies should be encouraged to keep the quality of their work by employing talented writers who are genuinely interested in journalism.
2. PR companies should stop encouraging brands to undertake heavy and invasive advertising campaigns through sponsorships.
3. Institutions and journalism associations could discourage astroturfing and ban brands that contribute to the spreading of false information.
4. More interactive forms of content creation could accompany journalism. This way, broadcasting agencies don’t need to rely on sponsorships heavily.
5. The readers should be encouraged to flag fake accounts and non-official news sources. Also, they should try to support independent journalists and content creators.
PR and journalism aren’t on the same level. In the past couple of years, PR dominated the world of information resulting in misinformation. However, we can fix this issue by taking active measures.
Finally, if the two parties reach a more stable equilibrium, they will both have to benefit, and so would the readers and clients:
- Journalism could restore its freedom to select the topics without thinking about the sponsors. As a result, the public would get less misinformation.
- PR could gain more credibility. Therefore brands will have a greater engagement from the public.
Looking for more info on how to build strong relationships with journalists? The All-Inclusive Guide to Media Relations is your go-to resource on how to build an effective media relations strategy, engage effectively with journalists, and so much more.
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