What is news and what is Public Relations/Communications ? What really matters? Sometimes simple reminders can be useful, so…
What is news ?
- A news is based on a FACT that should preferably be of PUBLIC INTEREST.
- A news is ONLY valid in context. You cannot say Pravind Jugnauth has lost the general elections… though this statement will be news sometime in the future… in 4 or 9 years. If it’s not factual now and in our local context, it’s 𝗡𝗢𝗧 news.
- A news is VERIFIABLE. Implying that is has been checked and cross checked preferably. The “bigger” and more “sensitive” the news is, the more the need to verify and to cross-cross-cross check.
- A news is SOURCED. A source is someone who has the authority and overview to deliver a particular information. If your news comes from your neighbour’s nephew who believes that taking Panadol will get you a lung cancer in 2 years, you should probably not take that “news” very seriously. Unless the person is a bona fide doctor who has done peer reviewed research on the matter.
- News from reputable and trusted news platforms are usually legitimate…if they follow rules 1 to 4 !
- 𝗢𝗣𝗜𝗡𝗜𝗢𝗡, 𝗖𝗢𝗡𝗝𝗘𝗖𝗧𝗨𝗥𝗘, 𝗛𝗬𝗣𝗘𝗥𝗕𝗢𝗟𝗘 are 𝗡𝗢𝗧 news and should be carefully separated from facts!
Now what is PR and Communications?
Since PR/COM is basically about building and maintaining relationships with different stakeholders through messages delivered in various formats over a variety of media, it could be safe to say that PR/COM uses some of the same processes as news.
This could hold true except for one central element of journalism/news: PUBLIC INTEREST. It should be the guiding beacon for every journalism piece. Yet in the era of clicks and diving audiences, it appears that the phrase “what is of interest to the public is not necessarily of public interest” is verified on a daily basis. Since many “news” stories now focus on events that are of no public interest but which do garner a significant volume of clicks as well as audience spikes on radio or television.
Similarly, in PR/COM, it appears that bling, big numbers, peppy displays often supersede the fundamental message. Corporate communications might not carry a great element of public interest but anyone who has spent some time in a newsroom would agree to one thing. Any PR/COM endeavour that clearly places the SENSE OF PURPOSE and VALUES of a company at the heart of their message definitely gets better attention from journalists.
In a sense, PUBLIC INTEREST is to news what SENSE OF PURPOSE is to PR/COM endeavours. They are most important, but are conveniently set aside for the sake of superficiality and instant gratification.