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Survey: The gap between journalists and PR professionals grows

October 31, 2007

Almost half of journalists believe the division between PR professionals and the media is widening, according to the results of the 17th Annual Bennett & Company Media Survey.

The survey, which examines journalists’ preferred ways to receive information, use technology and interact with PR professionals, showed how the proliferation of information sources has had an impact on the relationship between journalism and public relations.

“Twenty-five years ago when this survey began [media relations] was how we spent the majority of our day,” said Laura Bennett, president of Bennett & Company, in a release. “Communication channels have expanded to the thousands, including grassroots social networking, and therefore, our relationships with the media are one of many tasks we do every day.”

As PR professionals spend less time on media relations and journalists find in new media more sources for story ideas, journalists report that just 62 percent of their content comes from PR firms.

Those professionals whose content gets used are those who are familiar and reliable. Thirty-eight percent of journalists said the primary reason they open an e-mail is because they know the sender. Written comments from journalists said PR professionals needed to be open and honest with the bad news as well as the good.

The prevalence of “fluff” remains an irritation to a busy journalist. “Be fair. Don’t stretch the truth or tell half-truths. When words such as ‘first,’ ‘best,’ ‘biggest’ or ‘only’ are used, there better be supportive explanations,” one journalist noted.

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