We have also written about how a large group of journalists are too willing to get dominated by PRs because that gives them access to a star interview which is the most essential ingredient for any entertainment newspaper supplement or a film magazine.
But I have missed out on a vital point in those blogs. I want to clarify that point here.
A good publicist must be a good manipulator
Is a PR being unprofessional when he/she is trying to manipulate journalists? Should a PR just aid the news gathering process than interfering in it? I don’t think I have touched upon these questions adequately in the earlier blogs.
Let’s get one thing straight here: It is the job of every PR to interfere into the news gathering process of a journalist and manipulate it in such a way that it benefits his/her client.
A PR gets paid for ensuring that the client gets portrayed in a positive light in the media.
If you are a PR then your primary job is to ensure that the public gets to know only the ‘good’ things about your client.
It is impossible to meet that goal unless you manipulate a journalist who’s writing an article on your client. So, manipulation is technically part of the job description of a PR in Bollywood.
There are plenty of terms and jargons used to describe the job of a PR but the way I see it, it all boils down to this.
“Manipulating the news gathering process of a journalist to ensure free and positive coverage to a client.”
This basically means that a PR is also in the advertising business where he/she ensures free advertising space for their clients in the high-value editorial space of media organisations which sustains itself on credibility.
I am sure a lot of people will differ but this is the conclusion that I have reached after working with the PR industry closely all through my 15-year-old career.
So, how does that process work?
A PR is continuously on the hunt for free (editorial) advertising opportunities for their clients by continuously interacting with journalists.
The moment they spot an opportunity, they manipulate a journalist into creating an editorial space for their client in the media outlet that the journalist works for.
Once the ‘story’ or the article is published, three people benefit from the editorial which is created around a client.
A) The client who gets free and positive publicity.
B) The PR who justifies his/her fees by wresting free publicity for a client.
C) The journalist who gets a byline for the story (any gift or ego massage from the PR will be an added bonus)
What does the publication get? Well, it loses out on a potential advertisement or paid editorial. The net gain for the publication is a big zero.
So, everybody but the media house gains from a PR exercise. Technically, a successful PR activity makes its money by biting into the revenue pie of a media house.
But strangely, PRs still rule the roost when it comes to certain sections of journalism because journalists refuse to believe the fact that they cannot be told what to write (or what to air).
Here are the client is doing the right thing by hiring a PR because he/she needs a positive vibe around, the PR is ensuring that it creates a positive vibe for the brand/personality.
The only weak-link in this chain is the journalist who is participating in the process.
A process where he/she shouldn’t have had a role in the first place.
It’s a strange paradox where we, the journalists, are cutting the same branch we are sitting on.