Public Relations vs Media Relations

Publicity is a powerful agenda-setting tool.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Let’s dis­cuss pub­lic rela­tions vs media relations.

Media rela­tions is one of many sub­sets of pub­lic rela­tions. Using pub­li­city, PR pro­fes­sion­als can influ­ence the news agenda — and indir­ectly influ­ence import­ant publics.

Here we go:

Public Relations vs Media Relations

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Public Relations vs Media Relations

There are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent types of spe­cial­isa­tion with­in the PR industry. One such spe­cial­isa­tion is — media rela­tions. 1Silfwer, J. (2021, January 5). The Stakeholders in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​t​a​k​e​h​o​l​d​e​r​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/

Mass media cam­paigns primar­ily influ­ence pub­lic agenda-set­ting, rather than dir­ectly per­suad­ing pub­lics, rather influ­en­cing which issues and organ­iz­a­tions are dis­cussed.”
Source: Public Relations Review 2McCombs, M. (1977). Agenda set­ting func­tion of mass media. Public Relations Review, 3, 89 – 95. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​1​6​/​S​0​3​6​3​-​8​1​1​1​(​7​7​)​8​0​008 – 8

Some PR pro­fes­sion­als are Media Relations spe­cial­ists. Their typ­ic­al duties encom­pass a range of tasks to man­age and enhance the organ­iz­a­tion’s repu­ta­tion through the media. 

Here are some of their core responsibilities:

  • Developing media rela­tions strategies. Crafting com­pre­hens­ive strategies that out­line how the organ­iz­a­tion will engage with the media, includ­ing identi­fy­ing key mes­sages, tar­get audi­ences, and the most effect­ive chan­nels for com­mu­nic­a­tion.
  • Writing and dis­trib­ut­ing press releases. Creating press releases to announce news­worthy events, product launches, or com­pany achieve­ments, and dis­trib­ut­ing them to rel­ev­ant media out­lets. 3Silfwer, J. (2010, September 30). The Classic Press Release Template. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​l​a​s​s​i​c​-​p​r​e​s​s​-​r​e​l​e​a​s​e​-​t​e​m​p​l​a​te/
  • Pitching stor­ies to journ­al­ists. Contact journ­al­ists and edit­ors with story ideas high­light­ing the organ­iz­a­tion’s activ­it­ies, achieve­ments, or per­spect­ives on cur­rent trends and news. 4Silfwer, J. (2021, February 26). How to Write a PR Pitch: Step-by-Step Guide. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​r​-​p​i​t​ch/
  • Managing media inquir­ies (press office). Serving as the primary point of con­tact for all media inquir­ies, respond­ing promptly, and provid­ing accur­ate inform­a­tion to journalists.
  • Preparing media kits. Assembling media kits that con­tain essen­tial inform­a­tion about the organ­iz­a­tion, such as press releases, com­pany back­ground, exec­ut­ive bios, and high-res­ol­u­tion images. 5Silfwer, J. (2023, December 21). The Media Kit: What To Include. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​m​e​d​i​a​-​k​it/
  • Organizing press con­fer­ences and media events. Planning and execut­ing events spe­cific­ally designed for the media, such as press con­fer­ences, inter­views, and media tours, to facil­it­ate dir­ect inter­ac­tion with the organ­iz­a­tion’s spokespeople.
  • Media mon­it­or­ing. Keeping track of media cov­er­age related to the organ­iz­a­tion, its industry, and com­pet­it­ors, to under­stand media sen­ti­ment and the effect­ive­ness of media rela­tions strategies.
  • Crisis com­mu­nic­a­tion. Developing and imple­ment­ing com­mu­nic­a­tion strategies to man­age and mit­ig­ate neg­at­ive pub­li­city in times of crisis, ensur­ing that the organ­iz­a­tion’s view­point is understood.
  • Building and main­tain­ing rela­tion­ships with the media. Establishing and nur­tur­ing pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ships with journ­al­ists, blog­gers, and influ­en­cers to ensure ongo­ing interest and cov­er­age of the organ­iz­a­tion’s activities.
  • Media train­ing for spokes­per­sons. Preparing exec­ut­ives and des­ig­nated spokespeople for media inter­views, pub­lic appear­ances, mes­sage devel­op­ment, and media training.
  • Analysing and report­ing on media cov­er­age. Evaluating the effect­ive­ness of media rela­tions efforts through ana­lys­is of media cov­er­age, includ­ing reach, sen­ti­ment, and impact on organ­isa­tion­al goals.
  • Social media engage­ment. Engaging with journ­al­ists and media out­lets via social media plat­forms to build rela­tion­ships and amp­li­fy the organ­iz­a­tion’s messages.

Some com­mon job titles for Media Relations spe­cial­ists are:

  • Media Relations Specialist
  • Media Relations Consultant
  • Media Relations Adviser
  • Media Relations Manager
  • Media Relations Coördinator
  • Media Liaison Officer
  • Public Information Officer (PIO)
  • Press Officer
  • Press Secretary
  • Publicist

The rela­tion­ship with journ­al­ists can some­times be tense due to the dif­fer­ent object­ives of each field. 6Silfwer, J. (2011, October 17). Public Relations vs Journalism. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​n​s​-​v​s​-​j​o​u​r​n​a​l​i​sm/

Learn more: Public Relations vs Media Relations

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

Media Logic: Never Trust the News

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Media Logic: Never Trust the News

Media logic can be regarded as a rhet­or­ic­al approach to PR the­ory.

The pos­i­tion and size of art­icles on the front page is determ­ined by interest and import­ance, not con­tent. Unrelated reports […] are jux­ta­posed; time and space are des­troyed and the here and now are presen­ted as a single Gestalt. […] Such a format lends itself to sim­ul­tan­eity, not chro­no­logy or lin­eal­ity. Items abstrac­ted from a total situ­ation are not arranged in caus­al sequence, but presen­ted in asso­ci­ation, as raw exper­i­ence.“
Source: The new lan­guages (1956) 7Carpenter, E. & McLuhan, M. (1956) The new lan­guages. Chicago Review. 10(1) pp. 46 – 52.

Contrary to pop­u­lar belief, media logic is not one single the­ory. Instead, it’s a col­lec­tion of the­or­ies about how the medi­um and its con­text influ­ence medi­ated messages.

[…] each com­mu­nic­a­tion chan­nel codi­fies real­ity dif­fer­ently and thereby influ­ences, to a sur­pris­ing degree, the con­tent of the mes­sage com­mu­nic­ated.”
Source: The new lan­guages (1956) 8Carpenter, E. & McLuhan, M. (1956) The new lan­guages. Chicago Review. 10(1) pp. 46 – 52.

Media Logic Effects

Media logic is hypo­thes­ised to influ­ence the news media in the fol­low­ing ways: 9Nord, L., & Strömbäck, J. (2002, January). Tio dagar som skakade världen. En stud­ie av medi­ernas beskrivningar av ter­ror­at­tack­erna mot USA och kri­get i Afghanistan hösten 2001. … Continue read­ing

  • Aggravation. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will exag­ger­ate events, con­cepts, and ideas to make them seem more ser­i­ous and/​or dan­ger­ous than they are.
  • Simplification. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will dumb down events, con­cepts, and ideas to make them seem more under­stand­able than they are.
  • Polarisation. Because of media logic, the news media por­trays events, con­cepts, and ideas as more conflicting/​provocative than they are.
  • Intensification. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will sen­sa­tion­al­ise events, con­cepts, and ideas to make them more inter­est­ing than they are.
  • Concreteness. Because of media logic, news media will report events, con­cepts, and ideas more straight­for­wardly than they are.
  • Personalisation. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will over-emphas­ise the role of named indi­vidu­als in con­junc­tion with events, con­cepts, and ideas.
  • Stereotypisation. Because of media logic, the news media frames events, con­cepts, and ideas as more aligned with con­ven­tion­al perceptions/​opinions than they are.

The dom­in­ant pro­cesses, estab­lished routines, and stand­ard­ized formats which frame and shape the pro­duc­tion of mass-media con­tent, espe­cially its rep­res­ent­a­tion or con­struc­tion of real­ity, and its man­u­fac­ture of news. Media logic inter­sects with com­mer­cial logic and polit­ic­al logic — con­flu­ences asso­ci­ated with such phe­nom­ena as tabloid­iz­a­tion and the medi­at­iz­a­tion of polit­ics. Media logic exists wherever medi­ation exists. It con­trib­utes to the shap­ing of social order in mod­ern post-indus­tri­al cul­tures.“
Source: Oxford Reference 10Media Logic. (2023). Oxford Reference. https://​www​.oxfordrefer​ence​.com/​d​i​s​p​l​a​y​/​1​0​.​1​0​9​3​/​o​i​/​a​u​t​h​o​r​i​t​y​.​2​0​1​1​0​8​1​0​1​0​5​3​5​7​611

Learn more: Media Logic is Dead, Long Live Media Logic

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

Hot Topic: The Media Blackout

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

The Media Blackout Tactic

More and more organ­isa­tions are delib­er­ately avoid­ing any inter­ac­tion with leg­acy news media:

Media Blackout = when an organ­isa­tion inten­tion­ally avoid enga­ging with leg­acy news media, often to con­trol the nar­rat­ive and pro­tect interests. Journalists cri­ti­cise this prac­tice as it obstructs invest­ig­at­ive report­ing and under­mines inform­a­tion transparency.

Media Blackouts are the res­ult of unfair rules of engage­ment in a “Post-Truth” media landscape:

Media Minefield = the “Post-Truth” media land­scape where inter­ac­tions with leg­acy news media often res­ult in delib­er­ate mis­rep­res­ent­a­tion. Organisations nav­ig­ate this ter­rain cau­tiously to avoid dam­aging their repu­ta­tion and pub­lic image.

The Media Analysis

To resolve the situ­ation, we face two main challenges:

  • As organ­isa­tions learn to thrive without leg­acy news media, the PR func­tion must aban­don using the media black­out as a long-term tactic.
  • Legacy news media must acknow­ledge the Media Minefield and return to report­ing the bal­anced truth to the best of their journ­al­ist­ic abilities.

However, as a PR pro­fes­sion­al with 18+ years of exper­i­ence, I believe we will fall short on both these challenges.

Legacy news media will con­tin­ue to fall apart — where the erosion of trust from organ­isa­tions will be one of many con­trib­ut­ing factors. Organisations will likely opt for “Post-Truth” strategies, lead­ing to organ­isa­tion­al cor­ro­sion from the inside out.

Post-truth is a soci­et­al phe­nomen­on, influ­enced by the expect­a­tion that hon­esty is the default pos­i­tion, and the pub­lic tol­er­ance of inac­cur­ate and undefen­ded alleg­a­tions in polit­ics.”
Source: Nature 11Higgins, K. (2016). Post-truth: a guide for the per­plexed. Nature, 540, 9 – 9. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​3​8​/​5​4​0​0​09a

Instead, new “soci­et­al pil­lars” must be born out of the rubble: a new form of inde­pend­ent news media based on trust (not clicks or ideo­logy) and a new form of suc­cess­ful organ­isa­tions based on trans­par­ency (not avoid­ance or exploitation).

Learn more: The Media Blackout: When PR Declines Media Interviews

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Public Relations 101

Free Introduction PR Course - Doctor Spin - Public Relations Blog
Free intro­duc­tion PR course.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Doctor Spin’s PR School: Free Introduction PR Course

Get star­ted with this free Introduction PR Course and learn essen­tial pub­lic rela­tions skills and con­cepts for future suc­cess in the PR industry.

Comparing Public Relations

Be so good they can­’t ignore you.”
— Steve Martin

Learn more: All Free PR Courses

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Silfwer, J. (2021, January 5). The Stakeholders in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​t​a​k​e​h​o​l​d​e​r​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/
2 McCombs, M. (1977). Agenda set­ting func­tion of mass media. Public Relations Review, 3, 89 – 95. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​1​6​/​S​0​3​6​3​-​8​1​1​1​(​7​7​)​8​0​008 – 8
3 Silfwer, J. (2010, September 30). The Classic Press Release Template. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​c​l​a​s​s​i​c​-​p​r​e​s​s​-​r​e​l​e​a​s​e​-​t​e​m​p​l​a​te/
4 Silfwer, J. (2021, February 26). How to Write a PR Pitch: Step-by-Step Guide. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​r​-​p​i​t​ch/
5 Silfwer, J. (2023, December 21). The Media Kit: What To Include. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​m​e​d​i​a​-​k​it/
6 Silfwer, J. (2011, October 17). Public Relations vs Journalism. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​n​s​-​v​s​-​j​o​u​r​n​a​l​i​sm/
7, 8 Carpenter, E. & McLuhan, M. (1956) The new lan­guages. Chicago Review. 10(1) pp. 46 – 52.
9 Nord, L., & Strömbäck, J. (2002, January). Tio dagar som skakade världen. En stud­ie av medi­ernas beskrivningar av ter­ror­at­tack­erna mot USA och kri­get i Afghanistan hösten 2001. ResearchGate; Styrelsen för psyko­lo­giskt förs­var. https://​www​.researchg​ate​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​a​t​i​o​n​/​2​7​1​0​1​4​6​2​4​_​T​i​o​_​d​a​g​a​r​_​s​o​m​_​s​k​a​k​a​d​e​_​v​a​r​l​d​e​n​_​E​n​_​s​t​u​d​i​e​_​a​v​_​m​e​d​i​e​r​n​a​s​_​b​e​s​k​r​i​v​n​i​n​g​a​r​_​a​v​_​t​e​r​r​o​r​a​t​t​a​c​k​e​r​n​a​_​m​o​t​_​U​S​A​_​o​c​h​_​k​r​i​g​e​t​_​i​_​A​f​g​h​a​n​i​s​t​a​n​_​h​o​s​t​e​n​_​2​001
10 Media Logic. (2023). Oxford Reference. https://​www​.oxfordrefer​ence​.com/​d​i​s​p​l​a​y​/​1​0​.​1​0​9​3​/​o​i​/​a​u​t​h​o​r​i​t​y​.​2​0​1​1​0​8​1​0​1​0​5​3​5​7​611
11 Higgins, K. (2016). Post-truth: a guide for the per­plexed. Nature, 540, 9 – 9. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​3​8​/​5​4​0​0​09a
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has

.

Subscribe to Spin Control—it’s 100% free!

Join 2,550+ fellow PR lovers and subscribe to Jerry’s free newsletter on communication and psychology.
What will you get?

> PR commentary on current events.
> Subscriber-only VIP content.
> My personal PR slides for .key and .ppt.
> Discounts on upcoming PR courses.
> Ebook on getting better PR ideas.
Subscribe to Spin Control today by clicking SUBMIT and get your first send-out instantly.


Latest Posts
Similar Posts
Most Popular