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How not to do it

Posted by putsimply on 21st May 2008

Recently, Nick Booth, well known to EML, has been giving a journalist’s perspective on the negative side of PR in a daily column in ‘The Inquirer’

Nick makes some valid points. It’s been a long time since *I* was fresh out of college, but I have friends on the dark side of PR. Far from engaging in cool battles with their Jedi counterparts (that’s EML, obviously), I hear tell of PR’ers calling the same journalist ten times a day. Personally I’m not sure I’d have the time.

Harassment of journalists drags down the image of the whole PR industry. I think it’s fair to say that this kind of thing is usually perpetuated by the bigger agencies, and causes some negative attitudes towards PR as a discipline. However, I won’t say we’re exactly displeased when such behavior causes disgruntled victims to ask us to tender for their business.

We’ve always tried to do things differently at EML. I made it clear when I was originally being interviewed for PR positions that I was never going to work for a company that bothered journalists too much. It does nothing but annoy the press and drag your clients’ chances of reputable exposure down. From my last job I adopted the view that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and, to gain the best coverage, it’s important to have the respect of journalists you know. Coincidentally, this is often done across free lunches. What are the chances?

I don’t agree with everything Nick says though. PR’ers are certainly phobic of having their clients’ quotes altered, and client quotes can definitely be ‘turgid’** sometimes. Yet even at its simplest level quote-alteration can make the difference between a prime minister saying ‘I hate children to go without a proper education’ and simply ‘I hate children’. Also, the misquoting of sources can lead to serious misunderstandings which, if they’re not actionable, generally lead to the PR company taking the flak.

As a total non-sequitur, I hear that Nick Booth has volunteered to take part in a charity fight on the 29th May. I’m too skinny for such a thing. Besides, the pretty ones always get it in the face. I think Nick is making a best-in-class effort though. He’ll be the turnkey of the entire fight. You can sponsor Nick here

[** In my opinion, the word ‘turgid’ has fallen into an unfair degree of disuse, along with ‘Crivens’ and ‘Gadzooks’]