The Role of Public Relations in Politics is a monthly column written by WWPR member Margaret Mulvihill, examining the role of PR in politics.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Washington Women in Public Relations

Journalists Are Killing Information

An allegation is floating around out there in the twitter sphere. Journalists are killing information. That is a serious charge by any standard. Those of us who practice in the public relations community, and especially those of us who cover politics from within the public relations community, should be rightly offended. We are.

On behalf of my ‘public relations in politics’ community, I firmly reject that allegation. Public relations professionals who cover politics do so honestly. Do we withhold information? Do we spin information? There are at least three responses to that question. No, yes and the most relevant of all — it depends on what constitutes ‘information’.

Not All Information Is Fact

Everyone in our community honestly informs our clients’ public on the factual information surrounding our client. Anyone who picks up a tabloid at the airport book store is well aware that not all ‘information’ is fact. Not all ‘information’ is truth. We are routinely fed bogus ‘information’ as fact. Claims are made daily in the tabloids and on TMZ about celebrities and politicians. Men are actually women in disguise and vice versa. ScarJo is really a Martian. How else could she play all those syfy roles?

It would be very remiss of us to bombard our colleagues in the main-stream media, and our clients’ followers, with an unsifted dump of ‘information’. We would not be doing our jobs if we did that, nor would we be doing the reading public any favors either. No one would be happy with us. Imagine writing about a client by researching them only on Google. What would come up?

Not All Information Is Truth

Anything and everything would come up on that Google search. The Internet is a vast ‘information’ dump, with the raw data available for anyone so inclined to sift through it. It will take you a while to sift through all that data, and determine what real information is and what mere tabloid speculation is. As you write about your client, you have many things to consider. Is the ‘information’ you have found online factual? Is it true? If you use any of that material, will it pass the plagiarism test?

Valuable PR Professionals

The public relations community provides that welcome short-cut for you. What you get from public relations professionals, working in the political world, is factual, real information. Fact checked, back checked, with calls to real people for verification. Nothing goes into print unless we can individually stand behind it. This is especially true for members of WWPR.

I emphatically reject the allegation that journalists are killing information — rather, we are preserving fact and truth in the media.