An analysis of attitudes of daily newspaper business writers toward public relations practitioners in business

David James Manifold

Abstract

Public relations practitioners working in business depend heavily on media gatekeepers to assist them in disseminating their employer's messages to targeted publics. Developing and maintaining credibility as information sources is essential if these public relations practitioners are to be successful in getting their messages through the media gatekeepers and to their intended publics. This national study expanded upon the source credibility research conducted in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s by focusing on the relationship that exists between public relations practitioners in business and daily newspaper business editors. Previous studies have shown that antipathy exists between journalists and public relations practitioners. However, no national study apparently has been conducted concerning the attitudes of journalists toward public relations practitioners in the business sector. In an effort to make comparisons with earlier studies, measures used in previous research were also used in this study: (a) journalists' general attitudes toward public relations and its practitioners, and (b) journalists' perceptions of similarity in news values between themselves and public relations practitioners. Results of this national mail survey of randomly selected samples showed that practitioners in business apparently have similar credibility problems with business journalists as previous studies revealed concerning journalists in general. When combined with the results of other studies conducted over the past two decades, the findings of this study provide strong support to the argument that public relations practitioners have yet to substantially improve their credibility with the media gatekeepers.