Do public relations (PR) professionals hold any power or sway over journalists? Views vary, of course, despite the cries of total independence by media practitioners. This article takes a focused look at the perceptions held by German journalists and PR professionals.

The article is interesting, even if it only can represent a small brick in the global puzzle, and I note as an outsider that German media did have a bit of a reputation for being somewhat deferential and ‘different’ in the past when it comes to certain subjects and sectors. Perception, as they say, is everything, yet this article may have given a bit of context to my external view.

The abstract was fulsome and valued, leading into a combined de facto introduction, literature and question definition that was comprehensive, readable, informative and engaging. The perceived power relationship that may be present and its operation was the core focus, leading to the simple questions of how does each group perceive the relationship and how do things differ, how do individuals perceive personal relationships, how do individuals perceive a power and influence relationship, and how does one group seek to leverage any power over the other group. Nothing ground-breaking, but interesting nonetheless.

The methodology was clearly designed, based around an extensive quantitative survey, and limitations were stated and did not adversely affect the research. When measuring perceptions you must match expectations accordingly. It would have been desirable for greater differentiation between the type (sector) of journalist being surveyed as there can be a big difference between trade publishers and public service journalism, for example.

Detailed examination is made of the results and its presentation is quite verbose and stats-heavy, affecting partially its readability and accessibility. Areas of future research were well-developed and motivated.

It is worth reading the article to learn the different responses and differences in perception, as certainly in some quarters there can be more negative feedback from the journalist’s perspective when they consider a PR is trying to wield an economic incentive to try and shape coverage, whether intentional or not. If unintentional, change may be possibly made relatively easily.

Koch, T., Obermaier, M. and Riesmeyer, C., 2017. Powered by public relations? Mutual perceptions of PR practitioners’ bases of power over journalism. Journalism. 10.1177/1464884917726421DOI:

A post-publication review of this article that appears on Publons.