THINKPIECE: PR executives may be called 'flaks,' but that doesn'tmean they must war with journalists

Bursting shells firing from anti-aircraft artillery is how the

dictionary defines the word 'flak.' Over time, the PR executive has

unwillingly adopted and retained ownership for this connotation that

refers to fiery pieces of ammunition that come from enemy aircraft,

aimed at a combative target.



But it's time for the battle analogies to cease.



There are several tactics that can enhance the relationship between the

PR practitioners and reporters. For the former, this means:



1. Maintaining the relationship with a journalist by becoming a source

and not always 'pitching' the client. Try a proactive pitch by providing

a story or news angle that doesn't exactly coincide with the client or

organization you represent. Put the message into context with

competitors, industry or trend news.



2. Forge the relationship by keeping in contact with the reporter on a

personal level; it doesn't always have to be news related outreach.

Build a friendship with the reporter. Offer to meet if you're in the

same general area.



3. Develop a solid strategic plan to augment and reinforce the story

angle or pitch you are presenting to a journalist.



If every PR exec realized the importance of integrating strategy and the

'big picture' into pitching and not just pitching to check off a laundry

list to get through, journalists might also start looking at PR people

in a different light.



To meet the PR exec halfway, the journalist should:



1. Remain open-minded. Do not shut out a potential story due to negative

and sometimes false beliefs about the source. Expect a thoughtful,

insightful presentation.



2. Focus on the most reliable PR contacts. Seek additional contacts from

the dependable ones and award access to those who did their

homework.



3. Let bygones be bygones. Grasp the new economy and all of its

newsworthy occupants and resources!



Isn't it about time these two professions broke down existing barriers

and met halfway to make their jobs easier? Journalists should no longer

have to hold their shields to the sky and wait to dodge the next flak

shot at them. Instead, they should exit the war zone, realize what

they're fighting for and form an alliance. PR execs and journalists

should be willing to identify their professional common ground, expand

on it and, most importantly, focus on presenting the highest quality of

information, news and content to an extensive, vast and ideally

appreciative audience.



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