Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can Reporters and Public Relations Professionals be Friends?

One of the operating principles by which Public Relations Professionals work is to develop good working relationships with reporters. To do this, the Public Relations Professionals try to be friendly and "please" the reporters. The premise is simple. If the reporter "likes" the Public Relations Professional, the better the chance that the reporter will cut the Public Relations Professional and his client some slack.

Personally, I think nothing can be further from the truth. To me, reporters and Public Relations Professionals need each other and the basis of the relationship should be based on professionalism. Friendship is a by-product and should not be the basis of the working relationship.

This is because as professionals, our loyalty is always to our pay-masters. To do otherwise, compromises our professionalism. I have come across too many examples of Public Relations Professionals who assume that they have developed a close friendship with the reporter. Based on this friendship, and a false sense of trust, the Public Relations Professional divulge sensitive information to the reporter only to see it being used against his client.

Thus, it is my opinion that Public Relations Professionals should focus on developing a professional working relationship with the reporter and not developing friendships. Don't get me wrong, I have many good friends who are reporters, but whenever I hang out with them, I always remember that we are all professionals and that our loyalties lie with different pay-masters.

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