Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This Is Why Hacks Hate Flacks

“For 20 years, as a reporter and editor in London and New York, most of my time has been spent doing the things nonjournalists assume journalists do all day: developing sources, chasing leads, delving into secret files and polishing paragraphs. But I have also devoted countless hours to dealing with PR people. This has involved furious phone calls to protest at my underplaying a client’s view of the world, surreptitious forwarding of material helpful to the case being pitched, and friendly invitations to bend my ear over lunch or drinks ... Then there are the emailed pitches, trying to persuade me to spend time and reporting resources on stories of questionable value to the FT’s readers.

“My inbox is clogged with the ‘barking news’ about New York’s first doggie-treat truck, the invitation to meet the inventor of the multimedia coat hanger, the press release on the “trail-blazing” motorway service station and the survey on ‘slowcial networking’ (otherwise known as sending greetings cards). There is the gobbledegook about ‘new paradigms,’ ‘providers of proactive solution management systems’ and “taking consumers down the marketing funnel,’ and there is endless ‘circling back’ from over-friendly strangers (‘Hey buddy!’ began one recent email) wondering whether their pitch ‘could be a nice fit for Financial Times, New York Bureau’—a target picked blindly from the directory.

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson