Aw! When a journalist and PR pro fall in love
Relationships are hard whether they are romantic or professional.
But what happens when a relationship is a combination of the two? One of the most interesting professional relationships is between publicists and journalists.
It gets even more interesting when a publicist and a journalist are married.
Both PR and journalism professionals have given their insight into the relationship dynamics, and what we don’t see behind the scenes.
Appreciate one another
Lisa Hagendorf, founder of south Florida-based PR agency, Centerpiece Public Relations, said that it is an unusual dynamic.
“It is an unusual dynamic that definitely can enhance your professional lives, so embrace it. Appreciate and respect one another’s work roles and responsibilities, and try and glean all you can from a different perspective. We [Lisa and her journalist husband] both love the camaraderie and no longer share the ‘flack vs. hack’ mindset. Plus, it’s fun having dinner with my favorite reporter every night,” Hagendorf said.
Steve Brenner, acclaimed freelance journalist, and husband of Hagendorf, also said to appreciate the availability and honesty of having a sounding board who knows exactly what happens on the other side.
“I’m always fascinated by people’s perceptions – and misperceptions – of a journalist. And, certainly after covering Premier League football [soccer] at The Sun [UK] for more than a decade, I’m well aware of the PR barriers used to protect beloved clients. At least now, seeing how it’s done behind-the-scenes evokes some empathy,” Brenner added.
There’s a lot to learn
“As a reporter, I sometimes deal with conflicts like PRs blocking access to their clients or I run into unforeseen challenges when uncovering a story,” Brenner said. “Plus, sometimes my stories get cut without notice, which is beyond my control. It’s nice to know that Lisa will understand exactly what is going on and can provide guidance from the PR or client perspective, especially when dealing with publicists, agents, sources, etc.”
Hagendorf pointed out the humor in their relationship dynamic. “It’s funny hearing things that frustrate him [Brenner] also frustrate me: Unresponsive sources, unrealistic deadlines, and slow-paying clients.”
She added that in her experience, if you disagree about something regarding a PR or editorial issue, always try and put yourself in your client’s shoes -- as well as the journalist’s shoes. Being reasonable, realistic and open-minded is good advice for many tense situations.
Suzie Cornell, publicist, and Jeff Cornell, freelance journalist, agreed, saying to take advantage of the work relationship.
“Utilize your spouse...pick their brain, ask questions about their industry, what they are working on, what talent they have available, what stories does their outlet have in the works, etc. Journalists are skilled in telling stories and Publicists are great at pumping up stories, so one can always help each other in their writing as well,” they said.
Suzie noted that a publicist can learn about new trends in journalism, what stories are of interest, etc. from a journalist partner, while Jeff said that as a journalist, he leans on publicists for content.
“Being married to a publicist in one of the industries I cover has helped me gain exclusive content for stories and land high-profile interviews. It’s also nice to have a spouse who can proof read or edit my work and someone who can help me brainstorm,” Jeff said.
What to know before you go [on a date]
Hagendorf said, “PR pros are client-focused, always on deadline, and possess incredible multi-tasking skills, so flexibility is key. We are also unbelievably resourceful; you want us on your island.”
Meanwhile, Brenner added, “Reporters are always looking for their next story, on deadline, and wondering what the future holds for modern journalism.”
Suzie and Jeff’s advice was to “enjoy the perks!” Take advantage of the free film screenings, concerts, fun events and all the cool things your job allows. Especially if you work in different industries, enjoy the benefits of both.
The biggest irony of Hagendorf and Brenner being a sports journalist is that she is not a sports fan. However, she said, his access to work events has afforded me rare opportunities to attend everything from Wimbledon to world-title boxing matches.
Brenner torts, “Lisa’s lack of interest in sports is actually refreshing – I have no interest in discussing league tables with her over cocktails – although I’m sure by now she has been brainwashed into knowing more than she ever thought she would, at least for soccer and cricket.”
Brenner remembered a time when they were out in SoHo and Hagendorf met Brian Kidd, the former assistant manager for Manchester City and a man who famously won the European Cup with Manchester United. Other fans thought she was being coy, but Brenner secretly knew she just had no idea who he was!
The Cornells (Suzie and Jeff) met on the job, and while sometimes their work takes them in different directions and locations, they always try to sneak away together and enjoy their work locations as a couple, making a mini vacation out of it!
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now an almost full-time freelance writer. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, NJ, trying out a new recipe, or binge-watching the new hottest show on Netflix.
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