Media Relations

Building Trust Between Journalists and PR Professionals

By Audrey D’Mello on April 8, 2024

Share this article:

A close-up of two people holding out microphones.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re interested in improving your relationships with journalists or public relations professionals, or perhaps you’re just starting out in the communications industry. 

It’s important to recognize that the communications industry is vast and diverse. The best part about its diversity is its evolution. 

Presently, digital technology has truly revolutionized the way we communicate. It ranges from broadcasting to magazines and from interacting through a comment to sharing a story on social media all over the world. 

Despite our differences, there is beauty in how we connect with one another, regardless of our backgrounds or cultures, and that’s what makes the communications and media industry so impactful. 

This is why it’s crucial to note that each individual has their own unique way of communicating and building relationships.

The main media experts—journalists and PR professionals—are the pillars of information and communication. They are very important in keeping their audience hooked on relevant and trendy news. The best part of this professional relationship is that they aim to keep their audience informed and engaged.

Knowing what works for them is the key to understanding a journalist or PR professional. This includes their preferences regarding their jobs, working styles, and personalities, which in turn creates trust and builds rapport.  

It’s simple, really—you want to connect with someone, learn more about them, and find common ground. 

Over time, we’ve failed to realize that the industry has evolved, and so have our means of connection but somehow, our techniques in understanding each other have stayed the same.

For example, journalists actually like it when PR professionals or other agency employees reach out to them to celebrate their work or show concern without having to hear a story idea or favour, and it works the other way around, too! 

However, it’s no secret that many journalists and PR professionals have grown tired of each other for various reasons. It’s important to remember that we are all here to help each other out, and there are ways to improve these relationships. 

By understanding each other’s needs, priorities, and challenges, we can work together to achieve our goals and create more effective communication strategies.

The most important factor to consider in both industries is understanding how to excel at building each other’s trust, and that’s where media relations come in. 

It’s one of the core subjects when it comes to pursuing a career in journalism and PR. 

How so?

With journalism, it plays a crucial role in society as a source of reliable information. It helps to verify the accuracy of facts and provides a space for interviews with important figures and experts. Quality and depth of journalistic coverage are key to providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of complex issues. Without journalism, we would be left with a lack of transparency and an inability to hold those in power accountable for their actions.

However, public relations helps build and maintain credibility for a brand or organization. It also shapes public opinion by creating a positive image of the company through various channels, such as media coverage, influencer marketing, and social media engagement. Lastly, for crisis management, media relations are much needed.

Now that you’ve understood why it is needed in both these brilliant professions let’s move on to the main character of this article, which binds this relationship: TRUST.

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard or read this quote, “You can communicate all you want, but if they don’t understand you, it’s silent chaos.”

I like to believe that this quote applies to both parties as well as their audiences- that’s how I came up with the following points and strategies:- 

  • Honest communication: Journalists and PR professionals should prioritize honesty in their interactions. This includes providing accurate information and disclosing any relevant conflicts of interest. Clear and transparent communication builds trust and credibility over time because, let’s face it, nobody likes it when information shared is only one-sided. 
  • Respect for deadlines: Both industry experts understand the importance of meeting tight deadlines, and the number of emails, calls, and meetings they face is burdensome. PR professionals should strive to provide journalists with timely responses to inquiries and access to resources, while journalists should respect PR professionals’ deadlines for press releases and other materials. 
  • Providing valuable resources: PR professionals can easily build trust by providing journalists with valuable resources, such as data, expert insights, and access to key stakeholders for interviews when needed. By offering high-quality information and exclusive opportunities, PR professionals can demonstrate their commitment to supporting journalists in their reporting efforts. As stated earlier, it’s a job, and we’re here to help each other. 
  • Work on your research: PR professionals and Journalists should take the time to understand each other’s specific needs and preferences, regardless of who they work with. This includes being aware of the types of stories they cover, their preferred communication channels, and so on. 
  • Transparency in pitching: PR professionals should be transparent about their objectives when pitching stories or press releases. By providing journalists with the necessary context and background information, PR professionals can help journalists make informed decisions about which stories to pursue. Journalists truly don’t have the time to see emails that don’t meet their basic requirements. 
  • Acknowledge successful collaborations: Recognizing and acknowledging successful collaborations with PR professionals can help strengthen trust and relations overall. Whether it’s valuable information or an interview, Journalists should express gratitude and highlight the positive impact of their assistance. By acknowledging the contributions of PR professionals, Journalists can create a culture of appreciation and mutual respect in their professional relationships.
  • Building personal relationships: Going beyond working hours and investing time in building personal relationships can strengthen the bond between Journalists and PR professionals. This can involve networking events, one-on-one meetings, and informal conversations to create trust and mutual understanding. It doesn’t always have to be a formal or professional relationship.  
  • Be human: Showing respect and courtesy to one another (PR professionals and Journalists), even in challenging situations, builds trust. After all, we are just trying to learn, grow, and work better. 
  • Feedback and adaptation: Both parties should be open to feedback and willing to adapt their approach to better meet each other’s needs. Constructive feedback can help address any issues or concerns and ensure that the relationship remains productive and mutually beneficial. 

In the fast-paced world of communications, building trust between Journalists and PR professionals is not only a goal but a necessity. Trust is the foundation upon which successful collaborations are built, and it’s crucial to establish this foundation early on in any professional relationship.

The strategies mentioned above have been valuable to me over the years in comprehending journalists’ and Public Relations professionals’ expectations of each other. However, it’s important to keep in mind that each individual may have different expectations, which will change as time passes. 

In essence, this article’s moral is that trust is essential for developing meaningful connections and impactful communication strategies when the aim or goal is common. 

By embracing trust and mutual understanding, we can cultivate a positive working environment and confidently navigate the constantly evolving media and public relations landscape.

Try these strategies and see the difference they can make in your professional relationships!

You may also enjoy...

Read more great articles like this, or return to the main articles page…

All Articles

The Princess and her Privacy: A HOT Communication Crisis Continued…

By Kaleigh Duff on April 8, 2024

In my most recent article, I wrote about King Charles and the Royal family and how Royal protocol impacts the release of information about their personal lives. As I explained…

The Princess and her Privacy: A HOT Communication Crisis Continued… - Read Post
A still from a video of Princess Catherine sitting on a bench.

From Corporate Marathon to Balanced Sprint: The Transformation of Work Culture

By Tanya Murali Dharan on August 14, 2023

In the past, the corporate world celebrated the idea of constantly working hard, waking up early, and putting in endless hours to achieve success. This culture of non-stop work was…

From Corporate Marathon to Balanced Sprint: The Transformation of Work Culture - Read Post
Numerous Post-It Notes, each a different colour with an icon of a person drawn on, sit on a table, with a large yellow Post-It having writing that reads, "Workplace Culture."

Someone’s PR Crisis is Another’s PR Miracle: Vanderpump Rules

By Meagan Poole on July 17, 2023

When life gives lemons, make lemonade. I’m sure you’ve heard or seen the term #Scandoval by now—the nickname for reality TV’s PR crisis of the year. If you haven’t, let…

Someone’s PR Crisis is Another’s PR Miracle: Vanderpump Rules - Read Post
Ariana Madix, Tom Sandoval, and Raquel Leviss.