British public relations practitioners rate the standards of their media counterparts higher than their colleagues in most other countries do, according to a recent survey carried out by German consultancy Gartner Communications. However, they do not think the admiration is mutual: about 60 percent of practitioners surveyed believe journalists see them as a “necessary evil.”

In a question allowing multiple answers, 55 percent of UK respondents describe UK media as balanced and 45 percent describe them as responsible. Surprisingly, given the notoriety of the UK tabloids, only 40 percent of UK PR professionals say the media’s approach is sensationalist compared to 55 percent of German respondents.

Chinese media were seen in the most negative light, with 77 percent of Chinese PR professionals saying the media’s approach is sensationalist and 77 percent who say it is cynical.

When it comes to political independence, the biggest differences can be seen between Western and Asian media. In North America and Europe, around 75 percent of respondents say the media are politically independent, while the same fraction in Asia says media are under “some” or even “severe political pressure.”

The survey also looked at concrete PR tools and everyday journalistic practice where, for example, big differences can be found between countries in attitudes towards gifts, junkets and embargoes.

“Whoever engages in international media relations needs to understand the differences in roles, accepted practices and viability of tools in different cultural settings” says Ulrich Gartner, founder of Gartner Communications. “As always, there are pitfalls and opportunities. For instance, most media in Germany or China would grant an opportunity to approve quotes from an interview before publication, a habit that PR people from the UK or US may not be familiar with.

“But European or Chinese clients will need to be told they’re always ‘on the record’ when speaking with a journalist in one of those two markets. Likewise, it’s good to know that an embargo date on a press release will usually be respected in Western markets while there’s a good 50 percent chance it won’t in Asia.”