Clare Balding’s Saga saga – should PRs ever ask for copy approval?

5th October 2017

By Victoria Archer

This week, TV presenter Clare Balding was pulled into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. What was meant to be a harmless interview for over-50s publication Saga, quickly became a debate between journalists and PRs alike about whether PRs should ever ask for copy approval.

In my opinion, editorial control should always reside with the journalist, after all, that is their job. For the PR industry, we need to ensure that our client is well briefed and has been media trained. We need to trust the journalist we’re working with and manage our client’s expectations accordingly.

 As soon as we start to ask for copy control we’re undermining the credibility of the journalist and not respecting the job they have in delivering newsworthy content for their readers. News should be news at the end of the day and it should be earned on merit because of its value to the audience.

We consume editorial news and features in a far different light, we enjoy the third-party opinion, and respect that coverage far more. That’s why PR, specifically media relations, involves influencing journalists and editors to get clients’ coverage to contribute to, and sometimes lead, news agendas.

If we want controlled messages and images, we’d work with a wider marketing team that can deliver display advertising. It all plays an important part.

I don’t believe we consume adverts in the same way, especially if you’re cynical. We all know advertising’s paid for and so anyone could promote anything. It raises brand awareness but how much impact does it have on a brand’s sales and reputation? Food for thought for another blog I think.

Back to the debate in hand, should we ever ask for copy approval? Let me know what you think…

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