PR & Journalism, Part 2 – It’s Not OK to Dismiss an Entire Profession

In yesterday’s blog, I waxed poetic about why public relations and journalism should be a love affair, not animosity-driven. The responses were what I expected – some loved it, some hated it and some said, “a few bad apples spoil the bunch.”

Of course. That’s natural, in practically every situation of life. I used to say, “Don’t confuse Jews with Judaism,” meaning that the core of my heritage was beautiful but people can really screw it up and leave you with a bad taste about the entire religion.

Well, I have a problem with that mentality now. It absolutely isn’t appropriate, nor is it politically correct, to make an assumption about a whole class of people based on your experience with 1 or 2.

It would be horrifying and jaw-dropping if someone posted on Facebook or said out loud, “I’ve had interactions with a few Jews or African-Americans or Hispanic individuals who were obnoxious, so I can’t stand the entire race or religion.” You just can’t say that. And you just can’t assume that all Jews or all African-Americans or all Hispanics are jerks because you met 1 or 2 who were.

The same goes for public relations and journalism. Um, have you ever heard someone blame the media for whatever? I have! And every time, I defend journalism as the profession that keeps our society in line and keeps us honest. I was a journalist for 15 years before I stepped into public relations.

Yes, journalists sometimes abuse the power of the press. Sometimes they’re inappropriate. But where would we be without them?

Same goes for public relations. I’m sorry if you’ve met 1 or 2 public relations professionals who were bossy or controlling, but the profession is not about controlling the media. It’s about partnering with companies and individuals so that they have consistent, clear messaging. It’s about finetuning communication. It’s about taking away the fear of interacting with the media.

That’s why I have to reiterate: public relations and journalism must be friends. And BFFs, if you ask me.

Since my new book came out earlier this month, The Flavors of Faith: Holy BreadsI’m on the receiving end of public relations. Now I’m being asked for interviews, where normally I try to secure them for others.

Next week, in fact, I’ll be on Channel 2 FOX Detroit to show how to make bread and discuss the book. Usually I’m not on this side of the camera, so I need the guidance to make sure I don’t look like a fool and completely freeze up during my 4 minutes on-air.

My public relations mentor and friend Rich Donley suggested that I get a manicure because the camera will be on my hands. Great suggestion – and one I never would’ve thought of. That’s the role of public relations.

He also encouraged me to set up my video camera at home while I’m baking the breads to take to the set and watch myself, seeing how many times I say um, or if I look frenetic as I’m making the bread and talking. Great idea. That’s called media training, and it’s a huge part of public relations. It’s an educational process, empowering others to be comfortable with media so journalists can do their jobs. Partnership – not foe.

That’s what public relations is all about – training, educating, encouraging and partnering so that not just media experiences, but yes, media interactions, are successful. 

Public relations is so much more than mere media. But media is a component of it. Because when we Americans want our news, we want it straight.

If you didn’t have public relations professionals, you wouldn’t have half the stories out there. And if you didn’t have journalists, we would be a society gone awry.

We must partner wit one another rather than erect a brick wall between the professions. The animosity has to be eradicated. 

Not just between our professions – between any two human beings.

The future of a harmonious society depends on it.

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