There are many careers and professions that share the same characteristics, but probably none as much as journalists and public relations practitioners do. As much as journalists and PR practitioners share characteristics, there are noticeable differences that exist—after all, they are two different fields.
The main key element that PR and journalism share is ethics—or at least it should be. Both fields consist of ethical standards that they must adhere to for the protection of their organization’s reputation and for the protection of the public. Whether the organization is a news publication, a news outlet or a PR agency—the main focus should be on delivering objective, transparent and coherent content.
Another area that PR and journalism differ from one another is its audience. Journalists and PR practitioners are the world’s most advanced communicators and both relay content to an audience. Although journalists relay news to a general and broader audience consisting of whoever reads or sees the news, PR practitioners relay content to a less general and a more targeted audience.
PR practitioners are accountable for persuading attitudes and beliefs (usually for a client) by using research, creating campaigns, utilizing news platforms and strategic planning—persuasion is never to be confused with propaganda which is not based on truth, but an unethical exaggeration. An example of PR practitioners using persuasion towards an audience would be the construction of a seatbelt safety public service announcement or campaign. Both journalists and PR practitioners never “spin” the truth because the S-word is a negative term that undermines ethical codes and usually implies hidden agendas, therefore, should never exist in either field.
Sharing similar characteristics is why it can be easy for some journalists to utilize certain skills needed in the PR world, as they understand PR from a different vantage point and are aware of journalists’ expectations from PR practitioners. After all, a handful of PR practitioners have had their start in the communication field as a journalist.
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