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19 Comments

  1. 1

    Anon

    Thanks so much for this Lucinda, I have been waiting to read an article like this for years! It’s time for the PR industry to stand up for itself as a field of respectable professionals and put an end to what often boils down to outright abuse and bullying from members of the media, despite all the value they receive from PR people.

    I have had plenty of great experiences working with PR pros, and I truly believe the work these agencies do is among the most important, relevant and credible within the marketing mix. These hard working people certainly do deserve the same level of dignity and respect that they show to the media on a regular basis, and I applaud the amount of work that is put in to the day-to-day PR job description and level of understanding required of both clients and the press. Of course, I agree – every industry has its bad apples, but enough of this abuse towards PR as they definitely contribute much more good than bad to the SA media at large, and we all know it. I have read that up to 70% of our local media content is supplied to publications by PR agencies? I think more than a little credit is long overdue here.

    Great article!

  2. 2

    BestDad

    I’ve heard about this from my wife, who is in teh industry, Especially towards their junior staff

  3. 3

    Soapbox

    “We help build brands, grow profit margins and provide information that the public needs to know”. Yeah in that order. 2/3rds of what you do is useless to anyone but yourself and the third is debatable. Quite and get a real job.

  4. 4

    Stix

    One of the “citizen journalists, blogs” guys here and I would like to point out a few things:

    My audience has grown immensely over the past three years. To the point where I can’t even believe how big it has become. In fact, it would put my head on a board to say that I have a bigger readership than most Afrikaans magazines in SA, excluding that piece of horse shit Die Huisgenoot. What is my point here? My point is that I don’t get paid to do what I do, I do it out of love for my readership. Yet some PR people (I have wonderful working relationships with Liny Kruger, Ice Carstens and Louise Crouse to name but a few) expect us to just jump when they feel like it.

    “I’m sorry I haven’t replied to your mail that is clearly not suited to my audience. Maybe if you took the time to actually look at my publication you would know that you are wasting my, and your own, time.”

    Also, stop expecting me do do work for free. If you really want to get my attention, lets talk money. Honestly this “open letter” (a format I detest) stinks of a sense of entitlement. I don’t care that you studied hard to get a degree. I don’t think a journalist is better at what he does than I am, just because he has a piece of paper from some institute with his name written with fancy pen and the exact same applies to PR or any other field.

    I didn’t agree with the South African media people under 40 list either, because they did not mention any of us alternative media people/infuencers. Me and Gus Silber actually discussed the list and how broken it was. But guess what? I don’t care about being mentioned on any lists or winning any awards. Because just like the Oscars it’s just all just a stupid circle jerk.

    You have just added yourself to the bucket of crabs that is the journalists that so offends you by writing this. This piece is proof that the “open letter” is a retarded form of attention seeking, not a form of communication.

  5. 5

    Cheryl

    I disagree completely. as a former journalist and now a PR practitioner for 12 years, I have never been treated this way by the media and those who I do hear complaining usually have not established any meaningful relationships with the media. if you understand the journalist and his/her requirements and provide relevant content, I cannot see this behaviour taking place. as part of the industry I am happy to say that there are some very annoying, very poorly informed PR practitioners out there who don’t bother to get to know the media they demand attention from every day

  6. 6

    Stix

    “I have read that up to 70% of our local media content is supplied to publications by PR agencies?”

    Where did you read that? I call bullshit.

  7. 7

    Grace

    Oh please! There is no room for sensitivity in the media, so toughen up or get out. Many new PRs do not know their media and it’s not the journalist’s job to correct them. Tons of PR stuff crosses our desks and it’s shocking to see how often relevant info is left out, like date, time and place – and then you say the journos musn’t get aggro – come on do your jobs properly, get to know your media and stop winging.

  8. 9

    Nono

    Thanks Lucinda for this open letter… Someone had to do this. PR is a real job, and we do work hard. We try hard to know our media, but there are those who really could not care less. A few media have become so arrogant and unreasonable, they will not give you the light of day. Before you even begin to explain why you have called them or why you sent them a press release of an opinion article, they have already cut the call. Yet you find these ridiculous articles published, and you wonder what is news right there? And I think a lot of us have come to appreciate that they have a job to do, and can’t seem to be marketing companies… We know when something is news, otherwise we would not even go to them with fluff. We are continuously educating our various clients on what PR is, we even get some of the season journalists to conduct training with these clients. I agree that our relationships should be mutually beneficial, and that we be given a chance. We do work hard!

  9. 10

    Herman Lategan

    Anybody who uses those tired and ugly words “media landscape” should be sent to the bathroom to wash out their dirty little cliché-ridden mouths. Also “for eons now”. One cliché after the other, pull yourself together!

  10. 11

    Peta

    Aah Lucinda, I am sorry you didn’t make it onto the Top 40 under 40s. The truth is, we did our homework and our judging panel very carefully weighed up every person on the shortlist. We take the the Top 40 very seriously at The Media magazine and, until now, we have not selected people according to what sector of the media they are in but what they have achieved in our industry.
    I agree with you that there are some PR people who really make a difference to our industry and a handful who I personally hold in extremely high esteem.
    I know you say that you have contributed to The Media but I certainly don’t recall that in the time I have edited it (since 2010).
    Just for clarity, contributing to The Media magazine has nothing to do with the selection of the Top 40 under 40s.
    Having said that, you do make some very valid points in your piece.

  11. 12

    Matt Black

    There was a great piece on Gawker a few days ago asking if PR people deserve our sympathy. Short answer? Yes. They’re still people. The PR industry is the screwed up part.

    A journalists job is to provide the truth to their readers. A PRs job is to ensure their paying client receives positive coverage and to try and cushion or negate negative coverage. Its a 2 way street. If a journalist withholds potentially bad facts for fear of upsetting a PR and their company (*cough* motoring journos *cough*) then the corporations win and the PR has done their job. If the journalist writes an honest piece detailing the errors in a company, the editorial team wins.

    My point? Your piece seems to have forgotten that its a 2-way street. You need the journalists as much as they need you. A friend works for an investigative journal and, if he needs information on a large para-statal that has been found to be corrupt or polluting the water supply, he needs to know there is a competent PR working to try answer his questions so that he can provide the most honest story possible. In return, the PR needs to know that a reputable journalist will not cover up a bad story just to ensure they get invited to the next PR drinks party, but the same journalist will offer you the right to reply on your clients behalf if they unearth some unsavoury details.

    The key is we need to share. PRs cannot exist without journalists and journalists would have a hell of a hard time without PRs. To keep trying to insult the other is counter productive.

    Gakwer piece: //gawker.com/do-pr-people-deserve-our-sympathy-1589842837

  12. 13

    Gregory S. Balchin

    you put your audience first then follow up by saying companies should pay for content.

    So, which is it? Does your audience only deserve content that companies are willing to pay for?

  13. 14

    Gregory S. Balchin

    Also, going on this retort: your the amount of attitude you have is inversely proportional to the amount of writing skill you possess.

  14. 16

    Gregory S. Balchin

    PR makes the news happen. lol if you think that you found all those scoops yourself.

  15. 17

    Gregory S. Balchin

    let’s not even get started on the fucking hack that you are, matt swart

  16. 18

    Gregory S. Balchin

    the only smart comment here.

  17. 19

    Stix

    That is a funny reply when you read it with your god awful language use.

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