While there are similarities, journalists are not bloggers, or vice versa
If a PR professional can’t tell the difference, he’s doing his client a disservice
I KNOW it’s unusual for me, but I am going to get out of my comfort zone and go off on a rant here.
This is a “101” message to all public relations agencies and conference (and other kinds of events) organizers: Journalists are not synonymous with bloggers. Blogging is not journalism, or vice versa.
Sure, there are similarities, but we’re different types of creatures, though we may hail from the same genus. We’re all into communicating information and insights to the masses, though our reach may vary. Bloggers do it because of their passion; we do it because it’s our profession – though I would like to think that many of us journalists do have some passion too for the calling.
This is not about whether journalists are better than bloggers or vice versa, though I know some people out there would love to have me open that can of worms again. Heck, some of my best friends are bloggers, and some of them do a better job of communicating information and shaping conversations than many a professional journalist. And I do think that blogging has been one of the most relevant and exciting consequences of the Internet.
This is not about whether journalists can’t be bloggers too or vice versa either, or whether the blogosphere is serving as a more effective and influential Fourth Estate than journalism. (Given the state of the mainstream media in Malaysia, I would have to say “yes,” since some Malaysian bloggers are more professional and ethical than many so-called journalists ... or at least more honest.) This is why we publish some of their columns and articles on this site too!
Yes, blogs are an influential medium, and the more popular ones reach a sufficient number of people that it would not be remiss to call them mass media.
But – and I say this again – we’re not synonymous with each other. So, you PR fellows and conference organizers, when you invite the founder and chief executive officer of a technology news portal like Digital News Asia’s Karamjit Singh, for a brainstorming session, saying you admire his contributions to the nation as a journalist (with DNA and as former technology editor at Malaysia’s premium business weekly The Edge), don’t ask for information like his “Blog URL.”
You’re inviting him as Digital News Asia (DNA) founder and CEO and you don’t even know that he’s a practicing journalist, not a blogger?
I mean, don’t you think you should have done a bit of homework there? We’re not even talking extensive due diligence like background checks, but perhaps you could have just clicked on the URL listed on his calling card to see the site for yourself?
Or did you think that because DNA is online, it is therefore a blog? That online journalism equates to blogging, and thus all its practitioners – including political news outlets like The Malaysian insider and MalaysiaKini – are therefore blogs?
I apologize if I’m coming across as harsh here. The sad fact is that you’re not alone. There are a whole bunch of other PR professionals and experienced event organizers who must have missed their Mass Communications 101 classes.
I’ve lost count of the number of times when conference organizers have invited DNA to be a media partner for their events, and in discussing the deliverables, say something like, “We would appreciate a blog post before the event.”
I sometimes respond with a snarky reply that if they wanted blog posts, they should have engaged bloggers and not an online news publication. That’s when I’m in a good mood, of course.
Because the heart of the matter is, if you as a professional PR practitioner can’t tell the difference, then you’re going to be doing your clients are major disservice. So before I plunge into a rotten mood, I sign off with these two messages: First, online journalists ≠ bloggers; and second; do your bloody homework!
Note: Two lines have been removed from this original article because they may unfairly implicate a different PR agency.
Unhealthy relationships: PR, bloggers and the media
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