No matter how far one climbs up the PR ladder, media-engagement skills must be kept sharp

Do PR people "graduate" from doing media relations?

Do PR people "graduate" from doing media relations?

To be sure, many who really enjoy pitching media continue to do it throughout their career. But others, it seems, take the first promotional opportunity to supervise - rather than practice - the art of landing the perfect placement and cultivating the great reporter contact.

People have different skills, and not every PR pro has to be a media relations whiz to succeed in the business. But let's face it, it helps. There is a reason why so many journalists, including PRWeek reporters, complain that they are only pitched by junior people. That is usually the case. More senior individuals have additional responsibilities, of course, for managing teams, budgets, and planning. But the good ones will retain their media relationships, and seek to cultivate more of them along the way.

Look at it from the other side. A reporter who moves up the journalistic ranks never stops practicing journalism, even if the job includes management, editing, brand, and other responsibilities. At their core, good editors will tell you they are journalists first.

PR pros should take that kind of pride in their media relationships and success stories. Though junior staffers are thrown into it from the start, it is a task that requires finesse and experience, not just courage.

There is another advantage to ongoing media engagement. The reputation of the PR industry would benefit enormously from more consistent contact between journalists and higher-level PR pros, who are as strategic and empowered as their peers in corporations and other marketing disciplines.

PR now has cause to raise donor awareness

Last week, the PR industry heard the good news that Ogilvy's Shari Kurzrok had received a liver transplant. The industry's response to the health crisis was widespread and genuine, even if the campaign by Ogilvy staffers on her behalf touched on the sensitive area of soliciting directed donations. In the end, Kurzrok received a liver via the usual channels.

The best thing that can happen now is if PR pros will harness this newfound interest in organ donation to promote a greater awareness of the issues involved. As a former employee of the National Kidney Foundation, I am well-versed on the high ratio of those in need of organs to viable donors, particularly among minority populations. As an individual who has been part of the decision-making process regarding donations for one of my own family, I also know how rational views about donation can be turned upside down when a personal connection is involved.

Part of the problem is that few people want to consider their own mortality. But if a person does not make his or her donation preference known to family members, it will be left to those family members to decide when the time comes.

Another problem is a lack of understanding about what is involved for families whose loved ones are organ donors. In my own family's case, there was enormous confusion over the time involved and how to coordinate funeral arrangements in conjunction with the donation process.

The power of this industry to reach people was evident in the coverage of Kurzrok's plight. Those actively engaged in that endeavor, or who were moved by the issue, should take up the cause on an ongoing basis, for the benefit of patients and donors' families.

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