The relationship between journalists and public relations practitioners is a vexed one, frequently discussed in the media and in industry forums such as a debate organised by the Public Relations Institute of Australia in Sydney on 6 May with claim and counter claim. Journalists dismiss PR as "spin" and most deny using it, while many PR people claim to their clients that they instigate most of what is in the media.

The relationship is shown by research to be complex, characterised by a state of what journalism academic Eric Louw calls "symbiotic tension", and remains obscured by myths and stereotypes that belie the reality of media practices.