Relationships between journalists and public relators in Italy, are not as bad as one might expect, according to a thorough research effort by Chiara Valentini and myself, due to be published soon. But the big surprise
comes from the alarmingly huge gap between what journalists believe public relations to be and what public relators themselves believe public relations to be.
This of course -given that journalists significantly contribute to forming public opinion- cannot but have a major impact on the overall perception in society at large of what our profession is today.
Could it not be that, like the cobbler’s children, we have always given for granted that our traditionally intense relationships with journalists was a sufficient reason for them to form a good idea of what we do, while -quite to the contrary- we have instead always used journalists principally as objective instruments to get our client and employer contents and messages across, rather than update them, as we most likely would with other people we truly relate with, on the dynamics and evolution of our profession?
In a way this relates to some points made by Larry Foster’s in his recent Alexander Hamilton’s medal acceptance speech.
Do we really relate with journalists?
And now, let me elaborate on the gap and give some qualifications of the research effort.
Chiara, with my assistance, did secondary research analyzing some twenty similar researches conducted in as many countries over recent years;
then interviewed personally one-with-one twelve senior professionals (6) and journalists (6); and
subsequently developed a highly articulated questionnaire which was put on line by the Italian Federation of Journalists (FNSI) and by Ferpi (the Italian professional association).
Some push mailings did the rest and we collected 562 completed questionnaires (315 journalists and 245 professionals).
One of the ten dimensions analysed (this, mind you, is a huge research..) was the role of the public relator in the minds of the two professions and each participant could select one of the ten offered descriptions.
Won’t bore you with the details but this is the result:
For journalists, the three most voted descriptions were (in order of importance):
– media relations
– organization of events
– product information
For public relators, the three most voted descriptions were (in order of importance):
– develop relationships between an organization and its influential publics
– assist an organization in improving the quality of its decisions by listening and interpreting the expectations of its influential publics
– media relations
I guess this tells it all.
I would very much like to encourage your comments, with a solemn promise to give more info on this highly interesting research in a short while.