Lesson 2: Public Relations’ Media Scanning Role

As lesson 1 demonstrated, media play a powerful role in shaping the public agenda—determining those topics that are most important for public consumption. The ways in which those topics are presented can vary greatly, though, depending on the content chosen (and omitted), the specific terms used, the images and spokespersons reflected, and the overall tone. Again, reflective of the Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant—one story can be told in many different ways. No single story shows the complete picture.

As public relations professionals, then, we have a mandate to “see the whole elephant” – to understand the many different perspectives regarding our organization’s news, or news that might affect our organization. Doing so contributes to our environmental scanning responsibilities, and informs how we should respond in our role as our organization’s ethical conscience.

Next Page: Environmental Scanning & the Ethical Conscience