Opinion & Analysis

WPRDFestival: PR & Media – The Blurry Lines


In the realm of communication, the relationship between public relations practitioners and the media is one of intertwined collaboration.

Both sides share the common objective of creating captivating stories and narratives that engage and inform audiences. 

While PR professionals aim to promote their clients’ messages, media professionals strive to deliver relevant and compelling content. The complementary roles of PR practitioners and the media is highlighting their shared goals and the symbiotic nature of their relationship in shaping stories that captivate and inform readers, listeners, and viewers.

At the heart of PR and media lies the power of storytelling. The art of crafting narratives that resonate with audiences is very key. PR practitioners and media professionals work together to develop stories not to only inform but entertain, inspire, and evoke emotions.

Understanding the target audience, maintaining authenticity, and leveraging different storytelling techniques are key aspects to be explored. 

Successful PR campaigns often rely on strong relationships between PR practitioners and the media. Collaboration and relationship building are vital for achieving mutually beneficial outcomes such as trust, effective communication, and long-term partnerships.

Real-life examples and insights from professionals in the field highlight the value of these relationships.

Thoughts on how the PR and Media relationship should be came to life on a Twitter Spaces conversation put together by Global Media Alliance (GMA) as part of the activities for this year’s World Public Relations Day (WPRD) Festival.

The conversation had three distinguished persons who have all tasted the practice of journalism to the highest level. It had the Knight Bagehot Fellow, Columbia University & Managing Editor of Ghana Business News, Emmanuel K. Dogbevi; Nana Boakye-Yiadom, Senior Communications Coordinator, Africa50, and DzifaGbeho Bampoh, the Corporate CommunicationsManager of GRIDCo.

The three provided valuable insights into the activities of PR and the media. The discussions shed light on the evolving relationship between these two fields and highlighted the importance of mutual respect, independence, credibility, and relationship building. But also, noted that there have been some blurry lines that seem to have compromised the independence of the media.

Respect Each Other’s Turf

Emmanuel K. Dogbevi emphasizes the need for mutual respect between PR and journalism. He stated that “Public Relations and Journalism are completely different professions, and the roles need not be intertwined. To be able to successfully work together, there needs to be mutual respect.” 

In the relationship between PR professionals and journalists, both parties have responsibilities. Dogbevi stresses that journalists should provide PR professionals the right to reply, demonstrating the value of their work and respecting each other’s positions and areas of expertise.

This reciprocal relationship goes beyond simply providing information but rather encompasses a mutual understanding and respect for each other’s roles.

Emmanuel’s Top Quotes

• Public Relations and Journalism are completely different professions and the roles need not be intertwined. To be able to successfully work together, there needs to be mutual respect.

• PR practitioners need to be placed in management positions to make it convenient to relay critical information to journalists on time.

• Journalists need to show value in their work by giving PR Professionals the right to reply. The relationship between PR and the media goes beyond providing information and respecting each other’s position and turf.

• If critical media dies, our democracy also dies, and it will affect people’s lives.

Maintaining Credibility

Nana Boakye-Yiadom indicated the importance of media independence and protecting the integrity of reporting. “If a media house platform publishes only advertorials submitted by PR practitioners, it reduces it to being just a billboard and not a credible media house for consumers.” 

According to him, It is important for media houses to maintain their editorial integrity and not compromise credibility by solely relying on promotional content.

Boakye-Yiadom also highlights the importance of building genuine relationships and showing interest in the work of journalists as PR professionals. This involves developing consistent relationships outside of work and demonstrating a genuine appreciation for the role journalists play in informing the public.

Nana’s Top Quotes 

• It is important for the media to have full independence in doing their job. This comes with the responsibility of protecting the sanctity of what they report on. 

• If a media house platform publishes only advertorials submitted by PR practitioners, it reduces it to being just a billboard and not a credible media house for consumers.

• PR professionals need to understand the community of journalists they are working with by developing a genuine interest in their work and building a consistent relationship outside of work.

• As a PR professional, you must be credible. In times of crisis, own your narrative but do not run from the microphone. Your credibility reflects the credibility of your organization

Upholding Spine, Ethical Standards

Dzifa Bampoh laid an important point about professionals demonstrating spine and integrity in their field of work. “As a communications professional, you need to demonstrate that you have spine and integrity by standing by the decisions made by your organization.”

“A need for continued efforts in building relationships between PR practitioners and journalists. Taking a pragmatic approach rather than an emotional one can help reduce existing tensions and foster a more constructive and collaborative environment between the two professions,” she added.

By working together, Dzifa Bampoe stated that PR professionals and media practitioners can shape narratives that resonate with audiences and make a lasting impact in the realm of communication.

Dzifa’s Top Quotes

• As a communications professional, you need to demonstrate that you have spine and integrity by standing by the decisions made by your organization.

• There is still a long way to go in building these relationships. We need to take it from a more pragmatic approach instead of an emotional point to reduce the angst that exists between the two professions.

This year’s WPRD FESTIVALwhich started in May, is in three phases – Twitter Spaces (May-June), Slush Events (June-July), and The WPRD Festival Summit (July). These activities are expected to engage over 3,000 people (both physical and online) from Academia, PR Practitioners, Policymakers, and Organizations.

Global Media Alliance is the lead organizer of the World Public Relations Day (WPRD) Festival in Ghana. Since World Public Relations Day started, Global Media Alliance has spearheaded its celebrations in Ghana with the support of industry stakeholders for the past two years.

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