Journalism vs. Public Relations

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Journalists and public relations professionals have always been a topic of discussion in relation to their differences, similarities and how the two co-operate in the media. This particular point of study has forever been under scrutiny as it is argued whether journalists and PR people are friends or foes. This essay will give a brief history of both public relations and journalism, discuss the differences and similarities of the two, and look at how the two opposing sides are needed within the media. This essay will argue that PR people and journalists can work together to communicate information to the wider public and will conclude that despite the similarities and differences, one industry could not exist without the other.

According to the Public Relations Institute of Australia (2010) website, public relations is “the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation (or individual) and its publics. In other words, PR is a management function which evaluates the publics attitude towards an organisation or an individual, identifies the policies and procedures and plans and executes a program of action to enable a wider understanding and public acceptance (PRIA 2010). PR professionals deal with numerous tasks such as interviews, media releases, media conferences and managing events and consultations (PRIA 2010). Other public relations activities can include publicity; such as the spread of planned information through selected media, promotions; such as the physical activities used to formulate interest (Mahoney, p. 2, 2008) and crisis management; to repair and manage information and effectively communicate a positive view to the public in times of crisis (Ashcroft, p.1, 1997).

‘Modern’ public relations have been around since the late 1800s (Hutton 1999). The term was first used in the US in 1897 (Campbell 2004) and the first PR firm was opened by Ivy Lee in 1905 (Turney 2000). In Australia,...
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