Can journos and PRs ever be friends?

The other week I made a trip to Melbourne to touch base with my Victorian PR contacts, of which there are many. The Melbourne PR peeps are some of my favourites. These guys make my life easier on a regular basis so I thought I’d go and put faces to names and voices (It had nothing to do with visiting Melbourne for the first time over a long weekend).

It was like media and PR had never met before. “Journalists never come and see us!” they exclaimed. One emailed me afterwards to say (and I quote): “I think the juniors in particular were in shock at having a real life editor in the office.” I had to laugh. As a result, that same agency are now (very wisely in my opinion) implementing a program where they’ll meet with other editors to find out more about what they want and how they can better work together.

It’s not rocket science, is it? I may be getting a tiny bit of a reputation for ranting about PR people but I’m not a PR-hating monster by any means (I was told by one PR today that she now double checks all her releases for mistakes before sending them to me!). Don’t be afraid, I can actually be very nice, honest. When PR is good, I tell people about it too; it just doesn’t make for such good reading! Only last week, I recommended a PR company to a business owner contact. After all, it makes sense for the editor of a business magazine to tell business owners who the best PR people are.

But I appreciate that the good PRs do me as many favours as I do them. It works both ways. So it’s not just about them getting on my good side, it’s about working together for the benefit of each other and the client. If we don’t talk to each other and keep up this media versus PR ‘dark side’ rubbish, we won’t get anywhere. We’re all in the business of communication and if we don’t communicate with each other, we’re missing a really big trick.

So I’m in the business of keeping my good PR contacts sweet as much as they are me. But let’s not go too far. You guys will always be the ones picking up the bill for coffee!

So, what do you reckon? Can journos and PRs be friends?

  • Well said Jen.
    And my short answer to your question: Yes, we can. 🙂

  • Laura

    I think journos and PRs can be friends. We work together, so why not? We love it when we have a good story / talent for you and you love it as well. If you’re up front with us we can be up front with you – lets face it, no one likes bitching and nastiness so let’s all be honest and open. Journos, say no when you don’t want a story or when you can’t make it to an event. PR’s, leave them alone when they don’t want a story or when you know they’re ‘not into’ a particular topic. Drop it. Don’t hassle. Wait until you have another story they may be interested in and then start talking again.

  • Adeline Teoh

    I’m biased. I prefer PR people who can write and find a relevant angle for their client and be of value to the publication. Everything else is just noise that journos may or may not have the time to sift through.

  • Susan

    Of course PR’s and journo’s can be friends. I’ve had similar repsonses from editors when I’ve caught up with them purely to find out what they are interested in and how we can help them. I actually had the editor of a major magazine say “no one’s ever asked me that before” – unbelievable, but true! There are many bad PR’s, but there are also bad journos. My personal favourites are the ones that refuse to speak to you because you’re a PR. PR’s and journos need to have two-way conversations – it’s the only way for everyone to get what they want.

  • ed

    of course. journalists and media relations people have a lot in common.
    most PR folks I know (certainly the really good ones like me) are journos lured to the darkside by better pay and conditions.
    happy to pay for the coffee, too.

  • It’s perfectly possible as a journalist to be friendly with your contacts, but both sides should be careful about being friends.

    There are times when agendas conflict , sometimes violently. That can be a bit hurtful if the person who you thought was your friend gives your company a public kicking.

    Cheers,

    Tim – Mumbrella

  • Esther

    I agree there are some dangers to journalists being friends with PR folks…. Just as it can be hurtful for a PR person if the journalist “gives the company a public kicking” it can be stressful for the journalist if their PR friend lets slip something very newsworthy, but then asks them not to act on it (which goes against the fundamental purpose of their job and puts them in conflict with their editor, etc etc).