How journalists and PR can get what each wants
I have often wondered what would happen if journalists took the same media training newsmakers take. Would there be some cosmic standstill, with both sides going away disappointed? I don’t think so.
To begin with, each side wants the same thing: To make news. The avoidance of making news is not the object of an interview. If that were the case, why bother meeting with the media at all?
An international PR company with which I am familiar at one time advised clients never to go on the U.S. television program “60 Minutes,” which, at the time, practiced ambush journalism. “Why do an interview and get your heart ripped out and stepped on?” was the reasoning. It was a viewpoint. There are cases, of course, where the newsmaker has his or her idea on what to make news and the journalist wants to ask about something else entirely, or pursue a totally different angle. This is a legitimate arena for mental combat and where effectively communicating messages is important.
The relationship between journalist and newsmaker is adversarial, though it needn’t be unfriendly. This is necessary to facilitate a free press, and for the journalism community to maintain its role as society’s watchdog.
Having been on both sides of this fence over the years, this should be a healthy relationship.