Public relations specialists and journalists have often been perceived as at odds with each other while both frequently helping each other out. Dan Rather, the former news anchor for the CBS Evening News, spoke about the role of public relations recently to the New York City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Rather called for public relations specialists to act ultimately in the interest of the public.
Scott Sobel, president and founder of Media and Communication Strategies, addressed Rather’s comments:
“Dan’s reasonable comments come from a reporter who has worked the field and knows the reality of enterprising or being tipped to a story. Any good reporter worth his salt should appreciate getting good information from any and every source. As a former journalist, I’ve always appreciated a smart, savvy and honest PR person who helps advance the story he or she is pitching or supporting. As a PR pro and agency owner, I will help a journalist to the benefit of our clients and the benefit of the story. Lying, spinning, being an adversary to good journalism is a self fulfilling prophecy of failure for everyone. I’m as proud of helping reporters break stories and win awards as I am proud of doing the same when I was a reporter. Rather understands all of the above and I applaud his frankness in the face of a good number of his holier-than-thou journalist colleagues who see all PR as the dark side. And, I’ll bet those faux Big-J journalists are likely to be the follow-the-pack wimps who dispassionately collect their checks, rewrite their wire copy and punch out at 4:59 every day.”