US and UK PR practitioners have high regard for media – not so much for themselves


U.S. and UK PR practitioners rate the standards of their media counterparts higher than their colleagues in other countries do, according to a recent survey carried out by German consultancy Gartner Communications. However, they do not think the admiration is mutual: About half of the practitioners surveyed believe journalists see them as a “necessary evil”.

In a question allowing multiple answers, 55% of U.S. respondents describe U.S. media as balanced and 40% describe them as responsible. Surprisingly, given the notoriety of the UK tabloids, only 40% of UK PR professionals say the media’s approach is sensationalist compared to 55% of German respondents. Chinese media were seen in the most negative light, with 77% of Chinese PR professionals saying the media’s approach is sensationalist and 77% who say it is cynical.

When it comes to political independence, the biggest differences can be seen between Western and Asian media. In North America and Europe, around 75% of respondents say the media are politically independent, while the same fraction in Asia says media are under “some” or even “severe political pressure.” The survey also looked at concrete PR tools and everyday journalistic practice where, for example, big differences can be found between countries in attitudes towards gifts, junkets and embargoes.

The findings underscore that whoever engages in international media relations, needs to understand the differences in roles, accepted practices and viability of tools in different cultural settings. And – as always – there are pitfalls and opportunities.

For instance, most media in Germany or China would grant an opportunity to approve quotes from an interview before publication – a habit that PR people from the US or UK may not be familiar with. Vice versa, European or Chinese clients will need to be told they’re always ‘on the record’ when speaking with a journalist in one of those two markets.

Likewise, it’s good to know that an embargo date on a press release will usually be respected in Western markets while there’s a good 50% chance it won’t in Asia.

About the survey
A total of 130 PR professionals from 36 markets participated in Gartner Communications‘ online survey on www.surveymonkey.com between October 2011 and January 2012, including 32 from Germany, 25 from the US and 16 from the UK.


Get your personal summary of the study by simply mailing to consulting@gartnercommunications.com.

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