21st Century War of Words

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As a former journalist, who made it unscathed over to the ‘dark side’ of PR, I find it somewhat amusing to see the mud-slinging and media politics that goes on between your so-called hacks and communication consultants.

Having stood on both sides of the fence, I have to say there’s far more dirt being thrown in the direction of PRs from deadline-depressed journos who grumble and complain about the quality of press releases, the timing of phone calls and general dealings with ‘the other side’.

This was crystalised yesterday when the ‘war of words’ took a rather amusing and 21st Century twist. A national journalist, who shall remain nameless, was so incensed by his dealings with a PR that he chose to tell the world of his gripe via Twitterfeed. Having ‘followed’ this journalist for a number of weeks, it’s become increasingly clear through Twitter posts and blogs that he has no time for either external communications or PRs for that matter.

As conscientious PR consultants we take note of his and other people’s ‘suggestions’, adhere to deadlines, and generally do our level best to ensure that we make a journalist’s life as easy as possible. What was interesting about this particular Twitter rant was that his swipe was not only at PRs, but also tabloid journalists who he assumed would run the ‘rejected’ story.

The media hierarchy, it seems, was working in overtime. I wonder, however, what would happen to the media merry-go-round if you took away the PR and tabloid journalists from the food chain – oh wouldn’t the broadsheets rub their hands with glee?

The answer – although I think some would rather not admit it – is that it would surely stutter and stumble. The truth is that we all feed off one another. Broadcast journalists read the newspapers to get ideas for radio/television features; national journalists read trade publications for those specialist scoops – and vice versa; PRs religiously read the papers to get inspiration for stories and news hooks; and, believe it or not, national journalists do use PR-generated news every single day of the week – when it suits them!

At the end of the day, we all want to read informative articles that provoke thought, laughter or debate. Surely it should be a question of moving that media wheel together in motion, rather than simply throwing good British manners out of the window – or via Twitter?