PR and Journalism: It’s A Long-term Relationship

By: Sarah Copeland

I have to admit, when I decided on public relations I came into the major rather clueless. What I mean is I had no prior knowledge of this field and still made the choice. I had turned down every other major listed in the UNT course options. I came across public relations, read the description, said, “yeah, that sounds like something I could do” and basically decided my future with that thought. Since then I have constantly been amazed with how many different areas of PR exist.

One subset of PR that I’ve talked about often this week is Media Relations. This career isn’t really my intended PR focus and it’s not what I am most interested in, but I will admit that I hadn’t viewed in very seriously until this semester. The perception of media relations is far from accurate. Many difficulties occur between PR specialists and the journalists they communicate with. Without trust and respect for each other’s work, communicating isn’t easy.

Probably the number one thing media relations is NOT is constantly writing press releases and emailing them to journalists with the expectation that it will get media coverage. Communicating with journalists takes much more than sending out press releases or media kits. It’s called media RELATIONS for a reason. Building relationships takes time and effort and even more to be on good terms with journalists.

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What stands out to me is that, at the college level, both public relations students and journalism students start out taking the same courses. I had to take news writing courses and other journalism courses because both majors are considered journalism courses, at least at my college. Here’s what is incredible to me: even though we both have the same start line, journalists don’t trust PR people and PR people don’t trust journalists. PR specialists fear what the journalists will chose to report and journalists fear that the PR specialists will either hide information or be dishonest.

I can’t say how journalists can help make this necessary relationship easier, but I can give a few tips for the other future PR pros out there. First, don’t waste their time. In media relations you should always be aware that journalists have deadlines and those time limits should be respected. This is also relevant to emails or phone calls. Make the point and then follow up with them later, they have other news sources as well. Next, don’t become frustrated if they write a negative story about something you pitched to them, even if the information is false. Finally, be honest and available. As PR practitioners we should always be honest and we should also be able to get in contact with.

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All of these tips can be taken as ways to maintain good relationships with the media and they are best practices for PR anyways so take note.



Dougherty, J. (2015, February 23). 7 Ways to Build Better Relationships With Journalists | Cision. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from

Himler, P. (2013, March 14). The Journalist And The PR Pro: A Broken Marriage? Retrieved February 19, 2016, from

Media Relations – SHIFT Communications PR Agency – Boston | New York | San Francisco | Austin. (2015). Retrieved February 19, 2016, from

Obrien, A. (2014, September 19). Public Relations Vs. Media Relations – What’s the Difference? Retrieved February 19, 2016, from

Reed, V. M. (2014, June 6). 5 Media Relations Challenges PR Pros Face. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from


Author: Sarah Copeland

I am a Strategic Communications student at the University of North Texas majoring in Public Relations with a minor in European History. I expect to graduate May 2017 and find a career in External Relations maybe focusing on Issues Management. I am also a proud member of my Alpha Delta Pi chapter where I hold the Intramural's officer position. I am also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society as well as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. When I am not attending classes, I work in retail. I am a former manager at Justice Just for Girls where I worked for over two years until my store closed. I am currently working for Gymboree as a Sales Lead manager. My work is enjoyable most when I am able to help customers and also when interesting conversations arise. In my free time I enjoy reading fiction novels, completing jigsaw puzzles, watching movies, playing practically any sport, and eating as much ice cream and and other desserts as possible.

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