PR’s obsession with media coverage

Public relations is more than publicity and press hits. Communications pros should look beyond journalists and instead target their organization’s audiences.

The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Note that the words coverage, media, and pitching are not found anywhere in that definition.

If you asked a person on the street or many PR pros for a definition, however, they would surely say something about press coverage.

The PR industry wasn’t founded on getting coverage. Most versions of the profession’s history include two-way communication with the public, along with informing, educating and influencing audiences. Though many early PR practitioners used media coverage as a tactic, coverage was a means to an end. It helped them reach people.

Fast forward to present day PR. Many practitioners list media coverage as a goal. Sometimes PR plans consist entirely of coverage, including it as a tactic, strategy, goal and even an objective.

It’s the wrong way to develop and plan, but happens frequently. Why is that?

Media coverage vs. reaching audiences

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