Poll says US PR pros find reporters impolite

NEW YORK: It appears US journalists aren't very nice to PR pros, but of the world's reporters, they're the least likely media practitioners to accept freebies.

NEW YORK: It appears US journalists aren't very nice to PR pros, but of the world's reporters, they're the least likely media practitioners to accept freebies.

In a telephone poll of 50 PR pros in the US, not one said that journalists treat them with respect. One in five said journalists treat them in a hostile manner, while 70% said their behavior is one of balanced neutrality.

The poll was conducted by London-based marketing and communications firm Incepta, which spoke to 50 PR pros and 50 journalists in the US. It polled such pros in 18 other countries.

"We thought this was an important industry issue - the media's view of PR people and what their standing is in the eyes of the media," said Mirella Cameran, MD of New York-based PR firm The Red Consultancy USA, part of Incepta.

Aly Colon, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank, said the relationship between the two is best "when each understands the job the other one has and both operate to do the best they can to provide the public with" necessary information.

In Italy, 64% of the PR pros said journalists treated them with respect. In Asia and South America that figure was 20%.

At the same time, every US journalist queried ranked PR a seven or eight on a scale of one to 10 in terms of its importance to the media process. (In Europe, 19% gave it a one).

"What's interesting is that while the media here sees PR people as valuable to the process, which is a good thing, PR people generally do worry about the way they're treated by journalists," said Cameran.

US journalists were the least likely to expect expenses like food and drinks, transportation, and accommodations to be paid for by the PR rep (98% said they wouldn't expect that). In Europe, almost a third of journalists expected PR people to pay for food and drink.

Cameran said these differences are important to know, especially when doing global campaigns. "Some things that are fine and ethical in one country, aren't in others. With press trips in Europe you don't expect the press to pay."

The poll also found that 60% of US PR pros are unaware of their profession's codes governing their contact with journalists, such as those from the Council of PR Firms and the PRSA. The same number said they felt that relationship is better defined by an unwritten set of guidelines.

In each region, the number polled was split evenly between PR and media pros. They were polled in the UK (40), France (40), Italy (36), South America (30), Asia (30), and Hong Kong (20), along with the US.

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