Indian public relations (PR) industry is still in
a very nascent stage. Its also growing, but
slowly and steadily. The international PR scene, however,
is entirely different and can be a tricky business
as the practices differ hugely from country to country.
recent study called Global Press-PR Relationship conducted
by Rainier PR, which is a leading business-to-business
technology PR agency based in London, revealed that
the PR industry in the UK doesn't enjoy the best of
reputations. The study termed UK PR as the 'worst
in the world.'
company quizzed almost 200 technology and business
journalists in the UK, France, America, New Zealand,
Italy, Spain, Holland and Australia during summer
2004. It examined different areas of the PR mix, including
stories and the quality of press releases, through
to general perceptions of PR personnel in each country.
The outcome: 36 per cent of UK journalists felt that,
on an average, PR professionals in the UK had little
of either client or journalist needs! Not very heartening
study also revealed that 70 per cent of Spain's journalists
felt that the majority of press releases that they
received had little or no relevance to readers. Going
by the numbers, it sure doesn't look hunky dory as
is usually perceived.
In general, around the world, PR has taken a battering
over the past few years, with budget cuts and in-house
PR (Corporate Communications) becoming more and more
prevalent. So where does this leave the PR professional
and, more importantly, what is the future of PR agencies?
The study conducted by Rainer focused on countries
like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, the US,
Holland, Italy and France and found out what journalists
think of PR.
What was found was that while journalists do appreciate
the value PR brings, the common grouse was against
the inconsistencies in approach and ability of PR
professionals. The study reported on key media relations
disciplines, such as pitching and writing of press
releases, as well as journalists' likes and dislikes,
general relations with public relations staff, and
how PR professionals can improve.
interesting observation revealed by the study was
that PR professionals consistently make mistakes in
their dealings with journalists and that those mistakes
are universally made around the world. The errors
PR people make is calling journalists when they are
on a deadline, poorly written press releases and lack
of knowledge of the publication. It was found that
18.7 per cent of journalists surveyed around the world
felt standards in PR were getting even worse, rising
to a high of 30 per cent in Spain. However, the response
was not all negative. Some PR agencies are on the
right track; it's just that the ones who are, are
outnumbered by those who are not.
RainierNet study was broken down into five categories
- pitching, press releases, press trips, lunches and
freebies, the PR agency-journalist relationship and
the future for that relationship. Pitching is probably
the most important aspect of day-to-day media relations
as 62.7 per cent of all journalists surveyed said
that the quality of pitch was the single most important
factor in persuading them to write a story.
key to a successful pitch to a journalist lies in
calling the right person at the right time. How many
are doing it is a debatable question. In the case
of press releases, a well-written press release should
be a basic skill for anyone working in a PR agency.
study revealed that 70 per cent of Spanish journalists
said that A majority of press releases they received
were mere 'corporate wallpaper' - of little or no
interest to their
readers. Twenty per cent of journalists said that
a press release was most likely to persuade them to
write a story and hence it was worth getting right.
come the ethical issues! Press trips, lunches and
other freebies that are offered to journalists. Of
the journalists surveyed, 17.2 per cent said that
the source was the most important factor in persuading
them to write a story. However, the value placed on
press trips and lunches produced the biggest difference
in results from country to country. UK journalists
seem to be influenced by anything and everything -
87 per cent admitted to being influenced by exotic
press trips, 60 per cent by being taken to lunch and
40 per cent even said that a pitch by a member of
the opposite sex would influence them!
the other hand, one look outside the UK and it was
found that over half of all journalists surveyed said
they would never be influenced by any factor apart
from the actual merits of the story. The study also
found that while most journalists would crib about
the poorly written press releases, awkward and ineffective
pitches and content-less
press trips, there was a remarkable amount of goodwill
to PR professionals from journalists all over the
for improvement is ample. What PR agencies can do,
is target the relevant publications with a clear thought
process in their mind and, of course, handle journalists
with care. One common grouse that journalists have
is that PR professionals play 'nanny', while journalists
talk to the
Hence, proper access to clients is necessary.
course, the situations and problems vary from country
to country but the core is that PR agencies need to
pull up their socks around the world.
with Eikona associate director Siddhartha Mukherjee