The Role of Communication Executives in the Age of Digital Journalism

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Reinventing media relations





Media relations have always been extremely important in communication professionals’ day-to-day work. These relationships have traditionally been mutually beneficial and aimed at conveying rigorous, accurate, interesting, and useful information to society. In their mission to build reputations for companies and institutions, as well as engage with the public in an honest and effective manner, communication departments have found a reliable ally in the media. In turn, journalists have found valuable support for facilitating their work and achieving their purpose in these departments. North American journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel said this purpose should be none other than “to provide people with the information they need to be free and capable of managing themselves.”

Although this sounds very good in theory, it is sometimes not so simple to achieve in practice. Journalists’ legitimate right to inform often clashes with the companies’ legitimate right to defend their interests and take ownership of their communications.

Ever since companies and other organizations became aware of the strategic value of corporate communications as an essential management tool, the number of communication departments and consulting firms specializing in this field has grown exponentially. This has further complicated the relationship between institutional communication professionals and journalists. On the one hand, there is an abundance of official sources wishing to communicate, but on the other hand, newsrooms are shrinking, giving journalists less time and space. Added to this are the impacts of the digital revolution and a pandemic that has imposed physical and, by extension, social distancing as a way of life.

In this context, what can or should communication executives do to build and strengthen their relationships with one of their key stakeholders? How can they catch journalists’ interest in this age of attention economics? How can they avoid becoming just another unopened email in someone’s inbox, or one more eternally missed call? This report seeks to answer these questions and help communication professionals reinvent a relationship that should be enriching and fruitful for both parties.



Nieves Álvarez
Paloma Olarieta