A requirement of this blogging assignment was to post a blog on the class’s blog, ‘PR@Mohawk.’
We were asked to decide on a blog topic relating to the class and material being taught, and to ensure the blog topic would create discussion promoting the PR Program in a positive light. When Tim assigned us the ‘Interview with a Journalist’ assignment, I was really excited to reach out to the mainstream media, almost ‘going behind the scenes.’ My blog post is below. Feel free to click on the above image for a direct link to my blog post about this, where you can view a video and some other content for that blog.
It is important to note as PR practitioners, media relations is a large facet in the realm of our industry. As professional communicators, it is our job to continuously facilitate good relations with others, and many of these relations involve the media especially when we are spokespersons for an organization. More specifically, the focus is on the relationship between your organization and the media; between you and the reporter. Media influences public opinion – the opinion of our audiences. Therefore, it is imperative to build strong relationships with reporters in order to increase our organization’s credibility and trust with our stakeholders. The ‘Interview with a Journalist’ assignment allowed us a chance to supplement learning about these concepts by asking the journalist questions about (how they do) their job. This exercise was an opportunity to allow us to think like a reporter, in order to appreciate and understand the reporter’s needs.
I think it is safe to assume most of us who watch the news expect that the nature of the industry involves many competing personalities who are blood-thirsty for being recognized as ‘the one’ to bring the most newsworthy stories. In addition, we may also assume journalists are looking for adulation through viewership statistics and building a strong reputation in their industry. I must admit I was expecting Phil’s goals and attitude to somewhat align with those assumptions. However, I was proven more than wrong. First, I was expecting to conduct this interview through e-mail as we have been taught journalists are some of the busiest, deadline-driven people – Phil requested a telephone interview. Second, I was expecting him to simply answer the question as quickly as possible in order to ‘get it over with’ – he provided more insight than I was expecting, which he took the time to explain in detail. Due to the quality of his answers, the interview was long and would make for a lengthy blog. Accordingly, I would like to highlight just a few responses I found valuable to understanding the media:
- What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
PHIL PERKINS: I think the biggest thing is I learn something new every day … Entertaining people and informing people – that is fulfilling.
Phil’s response here speaks to my comment earlier on assuming reporters are out for recognition. It was really nice to hear he values the intangible benefits of being able to continuously learn new things, and being able to educate others on what he feels is important.
- What do you not enjoy about your job?
PP: [W]ell it’s not just like the job, it’s almost like the industry. The industry is changing for sure, and that’s fine – change is good. I think change is very good. But at least I find in this country – in Canada – no one seems to really be solving the problem that doesn’t include firing everybody.
I was expecting to hear something about not always being able report on or find ‘juicy’ stories. However, Phil was referring to the big cuts at CHCH last year right before Christmas. I could tell by his tone of voice that he was truly angered by these actions since many of his colleagues were victims of the cuts, which went deeper than just a matter of losing a job. His response confirms that journalists are not only objective, but many do still have a human side to them when it comes to personal feelings about their industry, and how ruthless the industry can be to their own.
- What elements make up a good news story?
PP: I think emotion’s key, and I think relatability is key because I feel that everyone has Twitter, everyone has Instagram, most people have Snapchat, Facebook, and they get updates really quick, in 140 characters. But if it’s something that shows emotion and relatability people would want to sit down if it hits that hard, personal level – I think that makes up a great news story.
I was surprised to hear Phil acknowledged the reality of social media having a vast impact on our ability to traditionally communicate with others in person, and being able to exemplify that emotion without the stroke of a key. It was interesting to hear this despite the media’s ever-increasing reliance on social media to communicate their messages.
- How do you see as your role as a reporter in society?
PP: I think it’s … telling other peoples’ stories … I feel especially nowadays, people are so consumed in their own lives with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, all that, and people forget to look around and be like, “Look at the area I live in! Look at the cool business that’s around the corner! I wouldn’t have known about it if Phil didn’t talk about it or do a piece on it.” I think that’s important. I think it is right to inform people of what’s going on in the world, of course. Because the world at the moment is going through a lot of stuff so I think that’s important.
His response here validates a few of his previous answers. I really got the feeling he believes it is his duty and obligation to ensure people stay informed due to the public’s reliance on reporters to deliver local stories that matter.
I noticed Phil has been anchoring more lately, likely reflecting his dedication to the job and his ability to deliver. After speaking with him, I can certainly confirm a promotion to anchor from sportscaster/community reporter was reflective of his hard work and dedication.
I would like to offer some concluding thoughts after completing this assignment. Primarily, it was so enlightening to speak with Phil. I gained valuable insight into what he does, and his responses provided a greater understanding and appreciation to me of the journalism industry. Although his responses may not reflect the views of other journalists, he did debunk some myths:
· Reporting is just for reputation and viewership – he wants to bring awareness through reporting news, and telling peoples’ stories that matter to his community;
· All reporters are self-absorbed – he was so nice, open, and transparent with me, willing to divulge information about the industry I never thought I’d be privy to as a ‘lay person.’
The fact that Phil was willing to speak with me – a student – answers my earlier questions: “How would he have time for a Mohawk student, and why would he think I am worthy of his time?” Phil’s agreeing to speak with me further demonstrates he knows how important it is to be available to anyone who requests your time, regardless of who they are – that being available to connect with anyone is a gesture of goodwill and contributes to maintaining good relationships through two-way communication. Learning about how he deals with the industry helped me to understand it is not difficult to maintain good relations with the media as a PR professional so long as you understand each other’s needs. I recognize that understanding of the media is an important aspect of media relations, and respect for each other can go a long way.
Follow Phil, and or CHCH News on Twitter: (links below)