Media Relations in Seoul: Edelman Korea

One of our final destinations on our Seoul tour was our visit to Edelman Korea and meeting Mr. Sungbin Jang and Ms. Lucy Han. Public relations has been such a major focus of our cohort and classes, we were very interested in meeting with these professionals and getting their insights. They were both very welcoming and shared fascinating insights not only into their common practices but also into the Korean PR and communications landscape. They shared some surprising information.

I’ll be the first to admit that media relations hasn’t been my major focus or interest during my time as a communications student, but the media relations landscape of South Korea is a whole different playing field from what I know of the U.S. media field.  Ms. Han explained how journalism was an almost revered field in Korea, and that journalists were very respected as both professionals and as a profession in general. Maintaining a good relationship with your media contacts and journalist contacts was extremely important for all industries in Korea. I was surprised by the emphasis of respect that she placed on journalism in Korea, since in U.S. all anyone really talks about is how the journalism field is flagging due to the fall of print, and the rise of online blogs and Wikipedia. However from her descriptions the journalistic field is still very much honored and top professional position in Korea. I’ll admit it was a refreshing insight.

The concept of important media relation was the over tone for much of what we discussed during the rest of the meeting. From the level of trust Koreans have for online reviews of products or companies, to the rise of emotional approaches in advertising and public relations, it nearly always came back to media relations and the importance of the ‘press pool’. It was also interesting to learn of variations in Korean press pools and how tightly editorial was tied into the way information was presented. Interestingly enough, investigative reporting is not a major component of South Korean journalism. A future area of research might be in comparing U.S. journalism practices and trends with South Korea, and whether or not one side could be affecting the other.

The meeting ended way too soon, but the perception of Korean media relations and advice we received was priceless. Especially if I come back to work in Korea one day, I’ll now understand how vital the media really is and I’ll be prepared to work within that landscape.



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