When I declared my major, Public Relations, my advisor showed me the required classes. The first one that caught my eye was Communications and Journalism 222: News Reporting and Writing. My initial thought was “what does news reporting have to do with public relations?”
According to PRSA, or the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”
As I have learned in CJ 222, journalists serve the general public. PR practitioners serve the organization they work for. Journalists must avoid taking sides where as PR practitioners are loyal to their organization.
Although both of these professions seem like they are on opposite sides of the communications spectrum, both professions need each other to be successful.
“Inside Reporting” by Tim Harrower, says PR Practitioners provide information about a their organization to journalists, but since journalists can take this information anyway they please, practitioners must be careful in the information they divulge. Due to this fact, journalists “always remain wary” of practitioners.
It is a complex relationship between the two careers, but neither can survive with out the other. Learning how a journalist thinks is necessary in being a successful PR practitioner.
Terry Chmielewski is a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. According to Chmielewski, the reasons why News Reporting and Journalism is a required class in the public relations curriculum are simple: proper style, format, and values. Proper style makes one credible. If one does not learn the proper, professional style of writing for the media, then one does not have a job.
“PR practitioners must know what journalists think is important,” Chmielewski said.
One journalism value that PR practitioners must know about is accuracy.
“What do you call a PR practitioner or a journalist who makes a fact error? Unemployed,” Chmielewski joked.
Learning these news-writing values is important for public relations students because most will be writing on behalf of the organization they work for. Understanding the media audience the writing is directed toward can mean the difference between success and failure.
A news reporting class in a public relations curriculum instills and reinforces proper writing but also builds and explains the relationship between future PR practitioners and journalists.
Images are courtesy of google.com and prsa.org