By Zibiah Dabbason 

Media has an interdependent relationship with the society that shapes,defines and sets limitations to media. In turn, media reflects and shapes the social reality, and defines the norms, values and standards
for the society, thus, influencing the public opinion. Media has great influence on shaping the public opinion. Essentially, public opinion is a construction of opinions and attitudes towards a
socially relevant topic or situation, which are shared and expressed by a large part of the population. Therefore, public opinion that is reflected and magnified in media has a great impact on all spheres of
the society. According to McQuail mass media is the most easily accessible source for individuals to evaluate and form their opinions. Individual opinions that do not coincide with the dominating opinions
in media tend to be kept silent in fear of falling into isolation or reshaped to fit the public opinion.
Media can also be seen as public because journalists act as representatives to other publics
Organizational relations with media are paramount for a variety of reasons. Through media the organization spreads its messages. For the organization it is the most effective channel of communication in terms of audience reach. The media are also considered independent
sources of information and are, thus, perceived as more credible than the direct sources according to Caywood. The goal of media relations is to balance organizational goals with public opinion. From the perspective of an organization, relations with the public are vital for its longevity as they function in the
same environment and are interdependent of each other. Press coverage influences public perception and behavior with regard to the organization. Caywood has this to say on media relations “approach to
media relations can be proactive, reactive, or interactive. Reactive media relations respond to media inquiries. Proactive media relations promote and publicize the organization. Interactive media relations
take a step even further to develop relations with the press”. Positive and consistent relations with the media are more likely to result in media interest and objective coverage than non-existent or
reactive media relations. Interactive media relations presuppose knowledge of the principles of the media industry on the part of the public relations professional. Media representatives and public relations practitioners are increasingly becoming aware of their interdependence on each other.
There is a mutual need, as journalists depend on PR professionals for information and organizations rely on media to mediate their messages. In media relations the organization must ‘package’ its information in a format that is acceptable and usable for the media. Media is looking for an angle that is relevant and interesting to the public. Ultimately, the information must be something the target audience wants and needs, something that motivates them into action or provokes a change in perception

Notes for journalists on media relations

  • It is important to interact with a reason, using specific media rules, and communicating a precise            message. Any noise has to be avoided.
  • Being too outspoken doesn’t do any good, the right words
    need to be carefully selected, and have to always check over every
    article before publicizing.
  • It may happen that an opinion is publicly presented in a
    slightly different context, i.e. the idea gets distorted. Usually
    journalists ask for a quick answer over the phone but can also ask for
    written answers via e-mail so that the opinion would ultimately be
  • To prevent the information from changing to its opposite a
    sense of caution is sensible while interacting with organization.

Organizations that interact with media do it mostly on their own initiative rather than that of the media. Media should learn to also show interest in what organizations do as a way of making the general
public aware especially if it is of great importance to them. Very few organizations have experienced strong media interest in their activities. Media contact is initiated in a few cases by a journalist with whom there is an acquaintanceship. Thus, the possession of information is the greatest asset in media relations. Although time-consuming and difficult at first, consistent work and co-operation with the media and other organizations eventually pays off the effort.

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