By Brenna Parker
Public relations is not spin.
I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back. PR. IS. NOT. SPIN. For everyone at Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication “Journalism’s Way Forward” event, it was made clear that #PRKent is not about spinning the truth.
The event was a panel discussion of post-election America and the future of journalism and communication under President Trump. The panel, which was moderated by news anchor Russ Mitchell, of Cleveland's WKYC Channel 3, included Henry Gomez, chief political reporter at Cleveland.com; Cheryl Ann Lambert, an assistant professor in the public relations sequence at Kent State; Jacqueline Marino, an associate professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Connie Schultz, a professional-in-residence within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a nationally syndicated columnist; and Chance York, an assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Heading into the third week of the Trump administration, it is apparent that the need for a strong relationship between journalists and the American public is now more important than ever. The problem with Trump’s campaign during the election was that he manipulated his supporters into distrusting the media, therefore they now view media professionals as the enemies of the executive office. PR professionals and the media now have to maneuver a working relationship with President Trump, and more importantly, there has to be a sincere and strategic plan in building a relationship with the American public.
Another problem facing PR professionals is that the public is self segregating its news. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have algorithms within their site that tailor your content from your online searches and past browser history. The challenge for these professionals will be communicating with these segmented publics, especially when social media sites are kicking out messages and content before it even reaches people.
As an aspiring communications professional who wants to work in public policy, the past two weeks of this administration have been beyond frustrating because our work will be compared to the work of Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. These two, who are furthering the negative stereotypes of public relations professionals, are perfect examples of what not to do when speaking to the press. Take Sean Spicer, for example. In his first press conference as press secretary, he completely shocked reporters around the globe when he scolded the press by reading a statement from the White House that included four verified lies about the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration.
For those of you that want to pay it forward and give back to the media, buy a subscription and support quality journalism. I do not think I am wrong by saying the millennial generation has taken for granted free information and news, but somewhere along the line we forgot to pay it forward and support these news organizations.
Brenna is a senior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's vice president of professional relations. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.