Journalists vs. PR Pros: This debate will never be settled

When High angle view of five business executives in a meeting I read PR Week’s Industry backs controversial campaign aimed at cutting PR spam, posted on January 29, I had a #HeadHitsDesk moment. This battle, this debate, this controversy will never end, will it?

To sum up this piece by Gemma O’Reilly, a number of PR professionals have endorsed a campaign to end the spamming of journalists. My first thought? Kiss-ups. If you really want to do your part in not spamming journalists, don’t do it yourself or put outrageous demands on your lower-level staff to land an unattainable number of media placements (note: this is not me accusing any of those PR people backing this initiative. I have no idea how they individually operate themselves, their businesses or their staff. Rather this is a call to all PR pros.)

Another thought that comes to mind is the number of PR professionals who give a bad name to this industry. Throwing my “brethren” under the bus, or not, I don’t spam. Have I reached out to a journalist knowing it may have been a reach, but thought I’d try because I had read a similar story with their byline? Of course. Did I consistently berate them thereafter? No. Simple equation.

My favorite comment on this PR Week piece comes from Cathy Wallace:

“What strikes me about this is yes, anything that can help PR professionals and journalists work together better has to be a good thing and spam emails are maddening. BUT – it’s so arrogant. I’m a journalist and I think it’s arrogant. What right do journalists have to demand all these terms and conditions from PR professionals, when we don’t reciprocate?”

Ah ha! Put your light bulb idea caps on, everyone! Reciprocation. Collaboration. Relationship building.

Every journalist and every PR professional is not created the same. Nor do we all work for the same boss. If we are to find common ground (which I believe has been done millions of times) we must accept that we have sadly over generalized each other. PR professionals are stressed to the max pleasing clients who want big results. Journalists are on the edge with demanding deadlines. Yes, we talk about it and blog about it until we’re blue in the face, but when does the actual execution of better practices begin?

Thoughts and reactions are welcome. What was your first reaction to this PR Week post? Do you think the campaign will help? Can we all just get along?

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