Before I divulge in some of my thoughts, I’d better introduce myself. My name is Emma Griffiths and I’m in my fourth year of a public relations degree at Leeds Metropolitan University, having spent a year working in the press office of Morrisons Supermarkets for an undergraduate placement. My placement at Morrisons left me with some invaluable experience, but also left me intrigued about PR 2.0, and the opportunities it opens up as opposed to traditional methods of PR. So here I am, right here, right now, working for Wolfstar for a week.
I spotted an article today on BBC online that discusses the decline in the amount of crime reported within national newspapers. One of their points of blame is public relations.
If there’s ever a scapegoat for the decline in ‘hard news’ within newspapers, public relations seems to be it. It has been reported that somewhere in the region of 60% of all newspaper content is generated by public relations activity, both direct and indirect (Davies, 2008).
Although it has been suggested that the chances of a journalist just happening across a newsworthy story are very unlikely, and that as much as 12% of the journalist-generated activity could may well have been triggered by something public relations related (Davies 2008).
For public relations professionals, surely this means that at least some of us are doing our job’s correctly, we’re getting the coverage and our client’s name out there. Public relations works alongside journalism and if done well, the two can go hand in hand quite comfortably. Why should we be penalised for doing what we’re supposed to do?
Don’t blame public relations for budget cut backs within publishing houses that leave journalists tied to their desks and unable to get out onto the streets to further investigate stories that have caught their eye.
Today, as Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post employees continue to strike against possible redundancy, it proves the point and is a good example to end with I think.
Less journalists = less resources. Of course the remaining employees are going to turn to the easiest means of creating a story, and filling the space they are paid to fill.
I might add too that Wolfstar fully supports their decision to strike, and has also joined the strikers on the picket line.
And so, as the public relations industry continues to expand, it seems that it will continue to be used as a scapegoat for many of the issues that journalism faces.