Expert judgments of selected media representatives regarding their interactions with public relations practitioners
Pontarelli, John M.
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Economic difficulties have forced both non-profit and for-profit organizations to cut costs and increase productivity to avoid financial problems. Comprehensive organizational efforts to improve productivity usually require an effective public relations strategy that includes the use of the media. The media's constraints of time and space limit the number of practitioners' suggestions that can be used, however, and practitioners, in effect, compete among themselves and with the daily news for the media's attention. To increase effectiveness, practitioners must understand the factors influencing media's receptivity to their suggestions. A sample of Chicago area media representatives with extensive experience interacting with public relations practitioners was asked about those influencing factors, using a standard questionnaire during pre-arranged times that permitted respondents to add comments. Interactions between media and practitioners most frequently resulted from the practitioners' initiated efforts to interest the media in a report. Preferred methods to contact the media varied. However, most chose the news release as a preferred method. All, however, said most releases were not used and were poorly prepared. The personal visit was the least preferred method of contact. When the media had the opportunity to choose among a number of practitioners for involvement in a report, a prior, positive interaction strongly influenced their selection. Previous, negative interactions were not as important an influence. Other significant influences on media selection were: a personal familiarity with practitioners; competency, qualifications of staff at an organization; and the organization's image and reputation. The media's general impressions of practitioners and of the profession were not very favorable, although there were individual exceptions. All said that while there were many competent practitioners, most were not. All interactions influence media's future receptivity to practitioners' suggestions. Much more is offered to the media than can be used, but practitioners who knew the media and tailored their information according to each media person's specialty were more successful. Practitioners' media interactions should emphasize thoroughness and quality, rather than the number of contacts, if they want to be among the relatively small group who are effective in media relations.