Writing, photography, content creation & communications

Positive surprises on “the dark side” in PR

FIVE years after unexpectedly finding ourselves “on the dark side’’ in PR, we have discovered it’s not that bad after all.

That’s possibly because the media landscape has shifted so much that “the dark side’’ is now filled with our own kind and it is more acceptable for the likes of us to juggle both worlds and continue to produce journalism as well as commercial content.

Here’s a few positive surprises we have discovered:

RESPECT FROM MEDIA

I’m ashamed to admit that most journalists have treated me with more pleasant professionalism than I gave to PR contacts while working solely in a newsroom.

They recognise the credibility of my information, my industry knowledge, calibre of clients, quality of the release and have come to expect editorial-style images as standard.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Well, kind of. We still write and shoot genuinely newsworthy and interesting stories and try very hard to ensure the stories we tell are fair and accurate. It’s just that someone else is paying us.

However, we cannot deny the bias and interests that arises with who is paying when we generate PR.

NO RIGHT OF REPLY NEEDED

The publisher of a local industry magazine once complained that my articles’’ wereverbose, self-serving diatribes’’. Well yes, that’s what my clients pay me to do. She was bewildered when told it was actually her job to pick through my media releases for information and story angles of interest to her readers and get the other side of the story before running the piece she wanted. The publisher, who had never been a journalist, believed that media releases were ready-made stories for her to fill her magazine with.

Armed with knowledge of the current media landscape, we do often now write media releases as completed stories, leaving no unanswered questions for sparsely populated newsrooms and inexperienced tree-changers. They are regularly published without change.

Therefore, as PR, we can choose to submit a traditional media release or a completed story depending on the occasion yet are never obliged to provide balance.

BECOMING SOMEONE ELSE

In the past few years I have created new words and phrases, changed a client’s vocabulary, taken on several vastly different personas, made moral and political points and berated senior politicians under Parliamentary privilege – all under the guise of others.

Anyone who has met me knows that really I am more than a bit shy, not that verbally articulate and certainly not confrontational. So it is a privilege and a joy to step outside myself and be someone else when writing quotes for a media release or a speech.

Do you agree? Can you add to this list?

* Ellen and David Hill worked in traditional print media for 20 and 30 years respectively. In 2012 they unexpectedly found themselves “on the dark side” in PR. Today, they run a communications consultancy. When not crafting communications for high-end clients, they traipse the country in search of stories, usually in a grubby hatchback piled to the ceiling with gear, a lanky teenager and, sometimes, a pampered pet rabbit called Sophie.

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