From the depths of the putrid pit, the spin doctor raised a bleary eye to peek from the gloom. No, it’s not the latest instalment from J.K. Rowling (who was fooled by my haphazard attempt?) but the image of a PR guru as seen from journalists’ virtuous towers.
Harsh? Maybe, but from personal experience, the friendly rivalry between journalists and public relations staff is firmly rooted in the belief that journalists are seekers and reporters of the truth, while PR writers are hacks-for-hire, smothered in the grime of spin. Indeed, when a journalist is tempted to switch allegiance from reporting to PR, journalists refer to this as ‘crossing over to the dark side’.
However, the two roles are not too dissimilar. There is a talent in creating the perfect press release – honest, accurate and factual while displaying a client’s best qualities.
As is the case with the perfect news story, the perfect press release should be succinct, between 300 and 400 words, explaining upfront who, what, why, where, when and how. The company news to be announced is what makes it topical, especially if timed to coincide with a current industry theme. Making a press release topical increases its chances of being published by the press. Include a quote from a relevant and named source. Also include contact details and preferably an impactful image to illustrate the release. Once you have the reputation for providing complete press releases ready for publication, journalists will be more receptive to future releases.
The assumption is that PR is only required when a company needs a positive spin. PR professionals are certainly invaluable when something does go wrong, but these situations are few and far between, hopefully. PR on a daily basis is about creating a presence and public awareness, and a reputation for the truth by playing the publishing game. It’s power should not be underestimated or feared, but embraced.
The truth is, and by now you know that is our game, it’s not so dark over here. To be literal, PRG’s offices reside in ‘Sunny Eastbourne’ as it’s known. But even on the dank and dreary days, focusing on the positive side certainly creates a sunny disposition.
As with any optimist, we may not wish to wash any dirty laundry in public, but spin is best saved for the washing machine or the politicians – we are more than happy with the truth.