To churn or not to churn….

The public relations industry has been getting its knickers in a knot recently about a new website launched by the Media Standards Trust. was set up so that you can compare press release copy with more than three million published articles. The idea being that you can spot what articles have been pasted from PR generated copy.

PR Week dedicated an entire article to it and the responses to it have been coming thick and fast.

I have noticed how journalism has changed since the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, and often point this out to clients. When advertising budgets were slashed, seemingly overnight, so editorial teams were similarly reduced. This meant that journalists were still expected to produce copy, but with fewer staff. They had less time to speak to clients to get ideas and quotes for features, and this meant that they increasingly favoured emailed quotes over time-consuming interviews.

This was closely followed by the expansion of media channels from print, to websites, to Twitter etc. How can a small editorial team be expected to write 100 per cent original copy with less people and more channels to fill? Before using PR copy any journalist worth their salt will check out its accuracy, or if they know it is from a trusted source, in the form a reliable PR person, they will use a good news story.

I agree with Mark Stringer, founder of Pretty Green. He says: “The fact is that good PROs know what journalists want and write good press releases to help provide content for them.” And, we PROs have always done that. If you don’t try and write like a journalist then what’s the point? Press releases are not advertising or sales copy. They are news and should be written as such – concisely, accurately and without any ‘spin’.

Anyway, this is obviously a storm in a tea cup as apparently only 54 per cent of PR material finds its way into news stories, which shows that journalists still like to uncover their own news. So, if your PR person has achieved some coverage for you, they have done a damn fine job persuading the journalist that it’s a story worth covering. The relationship between journalist and PROs hasn’t changed that much, it’s just evolved to keep apace with 21st century comms channels.

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