It is easy to mix up – if you put aside the draw and visibility of bylines — the roles and responsibilities of a journalist and a publicist. There’s no denying that both the positions demand extensive writing skills, ability to interview subjects and build relationships, but the objectives of a journalist are different from those of a PR professional.
A PR practitioner and a journalist usually work in close coordination with one another and enjoy a working relationship. Although this relationship is often defined as symbiotic in nature, their roles are different, their expertise varies and even the end goals are not same. Industry experts are of the opinion that the key difference between work of a publicist and a journalist is who they serve.
Asked about its role in the world of media, top PR consulting agency in Delhi said its principal task is to serve either the customer or the organisation. A journalist, on the other hand, serves the public at large.
To draw out the clear differentiation between PR and journalism, here are some touchpoints –
Who are Journalists?
A journalist aims to offer citizens with necessary information that help them become free and self-governing. They are considered as the watchdog for society and give voice to the voiceless. Apart from working for the betterment of the society, an integral part of their work is based on information gathering, which is implemented through ways – observation, interviewing sources, undertaking background research etc.
A journalist informs the society about the issues that influence and educate audiences so that they are well informed to take the best decision.
Who are Public Relations practitioners?
A publicist also aims to inform the audience but with the target to transform their attitude and behaviour that will eventually benefit a company or support a cause. A PR agency selects and segments to offer more precise message to the audiences. Although a PR agency’s audience base is usually niche, they have a higher number of mediums – newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, social channels – to get their messages heard.
The role of a PR professional varies from one organisation to the other. First and foremost, they engage in creating communication materials for internal and external stakeholders. They also develop news releases for media organisations. One of the most essential job of a PR professional is to build buzz in media.
Over the years, PR agencies have developed essential organisational skills – organise, coordinate product launches for companies (which demands creativity), good relations with media and influential people of the society at large.
So, which profession is better?
There’s no denying that the profiles of a journalist and PR practitioners are different, but both of them require to be creative communicators. In the world of rapid communication, both these professions focus upon impromptu assignments and in-depth research.
As more journalists are switching to Public Relations, the question that needs a prompt answer is, do newsmen understand and respect the realities and challenges of PR?
So, which one do you prefer – the so-called glamorous world of public relations or the hard-hitting fact-finding world of journalism?