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A wolf among sheepdogs: the delicate journalism – PR relationship

Blog post contribution by Mark Inglis

You wouldn’t imagine a wolf, in front of a room full of sheep dogs, would be very comfortable. There’s always tension when known enemies are put face-to-face, but on Friday, journalist Robert Cribb was at ease in front of his ‘natural enemies’ – public relations and communications practitioners.

Cribb, a foreign affairs and investigative reporter with the Toronto Star, stood in front of his opponents at the Cambridge Suites in Halifax, and asked for openness and cooperation between journalists and communication professionals.

Robert Cribb
Rob Cribb presenting at the CNW Breakfast with the Media Series in Halifax

“There’s something about it, there’s a very complex, interesting relationship,” Cribb says comparing the journalism-PR relationship to that of the wolf and sheep dog in the popular Warner Brothers’ cartoons. “I don’t know that there’s actually parallels in the professional world that’s quite like the journalist-public relations relationship.”

“I think basically all big questions in life can be answered through cartoons. Cartoons are the perfect kind of boiled down synthesis of the human condition. So, when I think about journalists and public relations people, of course I turn to cartoons.”

At the professional development event hosted by CNW on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 Cribb also spoke on some important rules for building and maintaining professional relationships between journalists and PR practitioners. Stressing the importance of transparency, Cribb points out key guidelines for PR professionals: “Respond, take the call, engage, be open, provide beyond rhetoric, provide specificity, show, don’t just tell.”

Cribb asked the room of about 40 local communicators to provide honest information, which would benefit both parties. Whether it’s giving an opinion, hard facts or details, Cribb encouraged the participants to stay accessible. He cautioned to never resort to the dreaded “No comment” response in the face of a journalist’s investigation.

After watching a few clips of communications experts flailing during intense interviews, some of the participants were convinced, “As a PR practitioner, I know how important key messages and talking points are in any media scenario,” says guest Karen Brookins, a communications and marketing coordinator with Essence Communications, “Fortunately Cribbs’s interview examples resonated with me, allowing me to revisit the true meaning of a key message and how to use it.”

Cribb notes another audience member made a great point observing the PR professionals role as messengers. PR professionals can advise and advocate for transparency, but sometimes management says no. “The message that comes out of an organization isn’t necessarily the one that the communications person personally advocates or believes in,” Cribb says, “So to some extent, it’s unfair for journalists to blame the person they talk to.”

After some great recommendations, warnings and suggestions, the event ended lightly, Cribb wants the two fields to maintain a professional wolf-sheepdog relationship. “I have very good friends in PR, and we hang out on weekends, then on Monday morning I call and I say ‘Listen, I need you to comment on this scandal and I’m going to harass you until you do.’ ”


.@CNWGroup Presents: Rob Cribb, investigative journalist, in #Halifax on October 16


Join CNW for a Breakfast with the Media event as we host Robert Cribb, Haligonian and award-winning investigative journalist with the Toronto Star for a presentation on how journalists research in-depth stories and how organizations can respond to potential public relations nightmares. Learn the kinds of questions investigative journalists are likely to ask, and how your reactions can impact the outcome — for better or worse. Robert will also talk about his experience with the launch of Star Touch, the Toronto Star’s new tablet edition and what this means for the iconic publication.


Friday, October 16, 2015

7:30 – 8:00 AM – Breakfast and Registration
8:00 – 9:00 AM – Presentation


Cambridge Suites Hotel
Brunswick Room
1583 Brunswick Street

To register contact:

Rodrigo Lima
Director, Strategic Accounts
1-800-414-2520 ext.3349

About our speaker:

Robert Cribb

Originally from Halifax, Robert Cribb is an award -winning investigative reporter at the Toronto Star. He has received national reporting awards and citations for investigations into child exploitation, human trafficking, dangerous doctors and public-health threats. Since 2012, has been recipient of the Massey Journalism Fellowship, the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy Reporting and the Michener­ Deacon Fellowship.

Robert is past president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, the first non­-U.S. board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, is currently president of the CAJ Educational Foundation, and is co­-author of Digging Deeper: A Canadian Reporter’s Research Guide (Oxford University Press). He teaches investigative reporting at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism and the University of Toronto.

@CNWGroup #Montreal Breakfast with the Media

Montreal, May 14th 2015 / CNW / La version numérique des médias; les mises à jour constantes et les besoins des médias
Montreal, May 14th 2015 / CNW / La version numérique des médias; les mises à jour constantes et les besoins des médias

CNW hosted this morning a Breakfast with the Media event in Montreal with a panel discussion about how online news is reshaping the Canadian media landscape.

Eric Latour, Media Manager
Yann Pineau, Directeur principal, Amélioration continue, à la rédaction de La Presse
Yannick Clérouin, Directeur de contenus, chef de publications Les et section Investir chez Les Affaires

“Je voulais te réitérer ma grande satisfaction face à l’événement de ce matin. J’ai trouvé le contenu fort intéressant, les intervenants fort pertinents et l’animateur très allumé et capable de relancer le débat de manière fort habile!

À en juger par les réactions des gens au micro et la pertinence des questions posées, on voyait bien que c’est un sujet qui passionne les communicateurs en nous.

Belle réussite et encore Félicitations!” – André Lavoie, Lawyer and Senior Communications Advisor for Massy-Forget Langlois Relations Publiques


Montreal, May 14th 2015 @rlcom
Montreal, May 14th 2015 @rlcom

About CNW’s Breakfast with the Media

For more than 20 years CNW has hosted free educational events for the Canadian public relations and investor relations professionals within its client roster. Often imitated but never duplicated, CNW’s award-winning Breakfast with the Media event series brings together Canada’s media and communications industries for lively, relevant discussions.

The Skills You Need to Succeed in Sales

by Lynette Ryals and Javier Marcos

The practice of business-to-business selling is in a curious state. On the one hand, commentators and academics are repeatedly telling us that transactional selling is outmoded and that relational selling is the ‘new normal.’ On the other hand, most businesses are operating with traditional models of salesperson recruitment and training. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) estimates that in the U.S., $15 billion is spent per year on sales training. However, many salespeople find the training they receive either ineffective or less than useful. Given the importance of skills and capabilities to sales performance, businesses need to reconsider who they recruit into sales roles, and how they train them.

Read full article on Harvard Business Review


TSX continues its endorsement of CNW for newswire and webcast services #pressrelease #communiqué

Toronto Stock Exchange continues its endorsement of CNW for newswire and webcast services

January 6, 2015

TORONTO, January 6, 2015 – CNW and Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) announced today that TSX will continue its endorsement of CNW for its newswire and financial results webcasting services. TSX has endorsed CNW’s newswire services since 2003. CNW is the only newswire provider commercially endorsed by TSX.

“We feel the CNW brand speaks to quality, integrity and expertise,” said Ungad Chadda, Senior Vice President, Toronto Stock Exchange. “We use CNW for our own investor relations communications and find their one-stop-shop approach helpful in reducing complexity. CNW‘s services also fit well with what we provide to our issuers through our TSX Company Services offering.”

CNW GROUP LTD. - CNW and Toronto Stock Exchange open the market
Nicole Guillot, President and CEO, CNW and Loui Anastasopoulos, Vice President, Business Development and Company Services, Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange along with members of their teams, celebrate TSX’s endorsement of CNW for its newswire and financial results webcasting services at a market open ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. (CNW Group/CNW Group Ltd.)


Read full story here

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