Media relations is the core activity in many public relations jobs. In essence, public relations personnel are the primary contact between the organization and the media media. Public relations professionals and journalists have long had a love-hate relationship. There is friction and distrust, but there is also the realization that they are mutually dependent on each other.
1. The media’s dependence on public relations. the reality of mass communications today is that reporters and editors spend most of their time processing information, not gathering it. Although many reporters deny it, most of the information that appears in the mass media comes from public relations sources which provide a constant stream of news releases, features, planned events, and tips to the media. Another indication of the media’s reliance on public relations source is the extensive use of “spokespeople” as primary sources in news stories. Journalists often use “spokesman” or “spokeswoman” as a code word for public relations personnel who provide information.
2. Public relations’ dependence on the media. The purpose of public relations, is to inform, to shape opinions and attitudes, and to motivate. This can be accomplished only if people receive messages constantly and consistently. The traditional media, in all their variety, are still cost-effective channels of communication, even in the Internet age. They are multipliers that enable millions of people to receive a message at the same time. It is important to public relation professionals because the media, by inference, serve as third-party endorsers of the information. Media gatekeepers give the information credibility and importance by deciding that it is newsworthy.
3. The areas of friction between the relationship of public relations and media is based on mutual cooperation, trust, and respect. Certain actions compromise the relationship. On the public relations side, these actions often involve the use of excessive hype, not doing the necessary homework, and making a nuisance of themselves. And on the journalistic side, these actions include name calling, sloppy/ biased reporting, and tabloid sensationalism. Both groups face the issue of improper advertising influence, which tends to undermine the credibility of the news coverage.