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Journal Article

Journalists, the Makers and Breakers of Relational Capital  pp97-104

Joanna Sinclair

© May 2007 Volume 5 Issue 1, ECKM 2006, Editor: Charles Despres, pp1 - 130

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is twofold. First, to call attention to why storytelling is a pivotal building block of Relational Capital and second, to provide an understanding of how stories receive media coverage, in essence explain how PR professionals seek to influence the business press into telling stories about their client companies and how journalists in turn react to the story material sent to them by PR departments. This paper approaches this issue through gatekeeping theory and presents an example of the various gatekeepers affecting the media coverage of corporate stories. Although the paper includes theoretical reflection, it chiefly attempts to bring new insights to the topic by providing empirical research results. The paper reports findings from a qualitative analysis of semi‑structured, in‑depth interviews conducted with six journalists from the Finnish business press and six Finnish PR Professionals. The article shows three types of stories that PR professionals use to lure the business press into writing news about their client companies. These are: 1) an idea of a story 2) a hidden story and 3) a ready‑made story. The article concludes in showing that an idea of a story will be appealing to business journalists, especially if the story is not obviously helping a commercial enterprise improve their image. It shows that a hidden story, however, can be appealing to business journalists even if the story would clearly improve a commercial enterprise's image. The ready‑made story, though, is found to be appealing to journalists chiefly as background information that might trigger a later story.

 

Keywords: storytelling, gatekeeper theory, media coverage, relational capital

 

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