Friday, April 04, 2008

Media Dependency....on PR

When I talk to my students about the old but still interesting "media dependency" theory, I turn it around for them. The theory means that the public is often dependent on the media for information about civil life, business etc. This is not so true anymore with technology enabling PR practitioners using multiple tactics to reach publics without media relations, and the fact that media is so often market-driven to the point of neglecting real news. Nevertheless, some people DO still depend on the news media, and the news media have that reach and third-party credibility that still makes them a valuable, albeit shrinking, part of the PR tactical tool kit.

Meanwhile, I tell my students, media dependency goes both ways. Reporters, for all their criticisms of PR people, need US! There is empirical evidence on this that lead to academic concepts such as "information subsidy." But there is also anecdotal support from honest journalists.

Witness the case in point shared by blogger Jon Greer about what Wall Street Journal reporter Steve Yoder said at a recent meeting of the Silicon Valley PRSA Chapter. This goes beyond my usual focus on West Michigan, but many of you local PR pros pitch the WSJ and the advice is universal.

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