Professor Michèle Favorite's Public Relations Class Visits Foreign Press Association
Professor Michèle Favorite’s Public Relations class (BUS 320) visited the Associazione Stampa Estera (Foreign Press Association) in Rome on September 29, 2022. It is the biggest foreign press association in Europe because it attracts journalists accredited by Italy and the Vatican.
Christopher Warde-Jones, a British journalist and freelance photographer, welcomed the class and gave the students a tour of the building, which has a restaurant, two conference rooms, a library, and offices. Journalists benefit from office space and the availability of news wires and newspapers. Important figures visit the association on a routine basis; past guests have included Pope John XXIII and former Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
The students were also greeted by Megan K. Williams, a radio journalist for Canadian broadcaster CBC, and Tom Kington, of The Times of London. Williams and Kington shared their experiences, daily routine, the importance of presenting relevant topics to the audience, and the pros and cons of technology. They also explained how journalists work in a foreign country and the dynamic nature of their job. Kington starts the day by reading the Italian news and reporting it back promptly to the British newspaper. However, time differences, like when he works on a piece for the USA, can also mean writing a breaking news story at 5 am Rome time to make the print deadlines.
Kington also reflected on how technology has increased the fast pace of journalism. He shared a story from the early days of the Stampa Estera, when it numbered many fewer journalists. Once they were all on a train together. At a stop, some passengers boarded the train and said that the Italian government had just fallen. The members of the association panicked as they had no way to report on it. So, they all waited until they got off together to write about the news, and the world found out about the collapse of the Italian government with a delay of several hours. This event shows how much technology has changed journalism.
The class also discussed the relationship between public relations and journalism. Specifically, students asked how PR professionals can get the attention of journalists. Williams explained how journalists have a high volume of emails as a result do not have enough time to go through them entirely, so an attention-grabbing subject line is really important. She also explained the importance of giving articles the kind of angle that makes them interesting to audiences.
The class, which is composed of eight students pursuing different majors and coming from Chile, Italy, the United States, Malaysia, and Brazil, got to ask questions related to Communications, Marketing, and Business Administration. Carlos Santander, who studies International Business, said, “The trip to Stampa Estera was very productive and informative. I enjoyed learning how the organization works. It is challenging yet inspiring, and I gained knowledge in an area that although mostly focused on journalists, can be useful for other fields as well.”