Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[ZESTCaste] PRCI Conclave: "There is laziness today in PR and journalism"



PRCI Conclave: "There is laziness today in PR and journalism"
By Arati Rao on Feb 14, 2012 (1 day ago)

A report from the panel discussion "PR - Interface or Interference" at
the Global PR Conclave 2012, hosted by PRCI

The Public Relations Council Of India (PRCI) hosted a PR Conclave on
13 February, 2012, in Mumbai, where the theme was "PR - Interface or

In the panel discussion were TC Ajit, managing partner of Reliance
Staffing Services and former chief executive officer of OgilvyPR in
India, Kumar Ketkar, chief editor, Divya Marathi, and veteran
journalist Ayaz Memon who played moderator.

Starting off the discussion, Ketkar said that both professions,
journalism and public relations, are over-rated and under-rated by the
other. He said, "There is more interface and overlap today. Stories
may unintentionally become 'PR' for a company or brand, even though
they don't outrightly support it. So let media not pretend to be
'holier-than-thou' and let PR not feel guilty."

Memon then posed a question on whether it's as tough to sell a story
these days, and whether journalists are displaying enough curiosity.
Ajit commented that because of the overload of information today, it
is the PR professional's responsibility to sift right from wrong. "We
used to encourage journalists to get the correct picture from other
sources as well," he recalled.

Ketkar said, "Lazy journalism is one problem. Cynical journalism,
where the given copy is entirely destroyed because it is believed that
no company can do anything good, is quite another. Even a journalist
who takes a byline is a brand - he is selling himself and is trying to
expand his market by being cynical. Sometimes, laziness is preferable
of the two."

Ajit said, "We used to give the press release the way the particular
newspaper accepts it, and are responsible to some extent for the
laziness as well."

Ketkar added, "Laziness of PR is also there. They don't know about the
industry, only the company they represent. They also fudge the figures
(for example, adopting percentage figures to show growth, when the
actual numbers aren't impressive). The more the information today, the
more the ignorance that has crept into media."

He stated that according to him, PR is still more of an interface
today, rather than interference.

Memon concluded from the discussion, "With the amount of information
going around, the interface is imperative. But it must be taken with
expertise on both sides."

Earlier in the day, PRCI also handed out Chanakya Awards for Achievers.

Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief, Times Now, was among those honoured at
the function. On the theme, "Interface or Interference", he said, "The
worst thing a PR professional can do is put pressure on a journalist
not to run a story. The suspicions of a good journalist or editor will
instantly be aroused and they will just follow the story more. Respect
the reporter who challenges you. Similarly, a journalist must never
take what is given at face value."

Strongly disapproving of the "paid news" phenomenon, HK Dua, member of
Parliament and former editor-in-chief of The Times Of India, The
Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Tribune, who was the chief
guest, said in his keynote, "The best of PR and journalism is when the
practitioners enjoy credibility."

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