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How to find a common language for press services and media: workshop by Ivan Gayvanovych

There is a common contradictory feeling uniting press services and journalists, it is irritation mixed with understanding of usefulness to one another. On the one hand, the very purpose of the press services existence is being the first contact point and source of information for the media. On the other hand, it is difficult to find a journalist satisfied with their work. However, there are hardly to find a journalists completely satisfied with the press services. First party considers its counterparts as too impatient, blame them for shifting accents, while other party accuses its counterparts of being too slow and arrogant. But the main cause of tensions between both parties are different objectives pursued by media and public relations.

The declaration of journalists professional principles adopted at the International Federation of Journalists World Congress, states: "Respect for truth and the public's right to the truth is the first duty of the journalist, that means primarily serving the public interest. The journalist is obliged to ensure for people getting the true and authentic information through an honest reflection of objective reality."

In concentrated form, the basic standards of news and analytical journalism are the follows:

  • Ÿ  opinions and points of view balance
  • Ÿ  promptness
  • Ÿ  accuracy
  • Ÿ  reliability (linking to sources)
  • Ÿ  separating facts from comments
  • Ÿ  facts and information entirety

The press service work is a part of the broader activity named public relations, while PR, in its turn, is a part of strategic communications. And the main purpose of public relations is the formation and maintenance of confidence towards a correspondent organization (company). This does not mean that PR managers / press services should tell the untruth (on the contrary), but they are, in any case, a party interested in providing one-sided (positive or at least neutral) information about their organization.

Vice versa, the media are interested in the motives and vices of decisions, they look for conflicts and disputes. And taking into account social critical attitude towards any authority, there are no reasons to expect uncritical media coverage on authorities in the media. This is, after all, the issue of maintaining the mass media credibility, which is relatively high among the Ukrainians.

Besides, not each news is interesting for the media. For instance, US Republican party training materials for the election campaigns argue that interesting news is:

  • Ÿ  extraordinary/unusual
  • Ÿ  well-timed/fresh
  • Ÿ  ambiguous
  • Ÿ  relevant to citizens
  • Ÿ  emotive
  • Ÿ  scale
  • Ÿ  conflict
  • Ÿ  involving famous people
  • Ÿ  discussed among the people

Of course, "technical" requirements to press releases are also important, namely:

  • Ÿ  pithiness
  • Ÿ  clearness (short sentences, simple and clear presentation, concrete examples)
  • Ÿ  literacy
  • Ÿ  factual accuracy
  • Ÿ  entirety/coherence

 

         Over and above, the news has to answer five questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Though the press release is the most widely used communication tool of the press services to the media, their duties and responsibilities list is much broader. Thus, in addition to the press releases preparation and distribution, the press service tasks are following:

  • Ÿ  information occasions generating
  • Ÿ  statements, appeals and positions preparation and distributing
  • Ÿ  public appearences preparation, photo- and videoshooting organizing
  • Ÿ  press kit preparation (press release, background information, photos etc.)
  • Ÿ  press koferences, briefings and other meetings with the media orgaazing, their photo and video fixation
  • Ÿ  responding to media inquiries
  • Ÿ  website and social media pages managing
  • Ÿ  photo and video bank managing
  • Ÿ  media monitoring
  • Ÿ  weekly analytical reports preparation on media coverage

Bad relations with journalists almost certainly affect the journalistic materials tone about your organization, while good relations can (though this is not guaranteed) mitigate unwanted accents. Anyway, you should not forget that the press services deal not with the abstract media, but with living people who do their job. Therefore you should not treat journalists as enemies, even if they represent unfriendly media, especially since their opposition to your organization can be entirely sincere.

At the same time, every journalist will be grateful for minimized formalities and bureaucracy while contacting the press-service, and will appresiate your affordability and obligatoriness. And of course, only when you treat journalists with respect, you can be treated by them in the same way.

 

 

Prepared by Pavlo Kit