While recently working remotely in a busy exhibition press office full of hard working journalists, I overheard an interesting conversation between two colleagues after one had received a phone call.
The local news reporter who'd taken it politely told the caller: Yes, inshAllah, habibi, count on me! But as soon as the conversation ended the journalist threw a profound “HUH” heard by the entire office.
His colleague asked him what was wrong, as he seemed irritated, and he replied, “A PR dude pitching me an interview with the CEO of a new PRIVATE university in the UAE, a PRIVATE one! How do these people think?!”
His colleague rolled his eyes, laughed and said, “He thinks you work for the advertising department.”
That PR “dude” could well have been me, so I started thinking about the issue in more detail.
The media landscape is changing every day, affected by different factors from business challenges to technology, new trends in consumer behaviour and media consumption, but none of these reasons alone should prevent journalists from featuring stories that are both informative and newsworthy.
Why should the opinions, leadership skills and experience of the CEO of a private university not qualify as news? He or she could offer valuable insights to the readers of a daily newspaper that has a wide range of audiences from high school students seeking higher education advice to their parents, and academia.
Similarly, private hospitals hire incredible doctors whose advice would be beneficial to residents, while hospitality practitioners can still provide valuable tips to travel lovers, and retail businesses can still offer practical solutions and products that serve a cause.
PR professionals must do their job in pitching the right news to relevant audiences, but some media fellows might want to reconsider their perception of PR, which is, at its most basic, a tool to help them source stories which will educate, enlighten and entertain their readers.