The PR industry meets journalism: down the rabbit hole

Hello to colleagues from ITJ/Mediaconnect… before reading this, bear in mind that although it’s an impassioned diatribe (written after perhaps one too many late evening coffees), it was really intended to simply be a statement about how it is to be a journalist engaging with PR. I wasn’t intending to criticise or moralise — I’ve benefited from trips and I enjoy a robust engagement with PRs and vendors. But I still think the central thesis of the post is valid — that it can be quite an odd feeling to be the recipient of intense outpourings of butter-uppery from PRs. Is it a bad thing? No. Is it odd to experience? Yes.

I’ve been doing journalism long enough now to no longer feel like a new starter… professionally since 2003, and for Whirlpool.net.au from 1999.

Sometimes, though, I sit back and have a moment of stunning realisation what a bizarre world journalism is — not bizarre because of the journalism itself, but bizarre because of the intense fawning, cajoling flattery from the staggeringly vast army of PR professionals that spend their days sucking up as hard as they possibly can to journalists.

When I say a huge army, I mean a really massive number of them. It feels like there are at least 50 PRs to each journalist. Sometimes when I stand at the bus stop in Druitt St, Sydney, I look at the crowd of often very well dressed people around me and can’t help wondering what proportion of them are PRs. Given the largest publishers and PR firms are all centred in the same area of the Sydney CBD, I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a lot of the 7.00 PM crowd are PRs on their way home to Balmain.

These people, who, in some PR practices, charge as much per hour as lawyers, are usually absolutely stunningly good looking, charming, charismatic people. They’re impeccably dressed, they know all about you even though you may not have a clue who they are (apart from a vague glimmer of a memory that you might have met them some time in the past), and they are deadset focused on making you feel fantastic about how good you are.

There are certain journalists in the industry who really thrive on this and love socialising with the PRs, even going so far as to organise weekly drinks (on the PR companies’ tab) because they enjoy socialising with the hot chicks who make them feel loved.

I’ve had to step back myself many, many times and ask myself mid-way through a conversation with a PR: is this person being enthusiastically positive towards me because they like me and enjoy talking to me, or because they simply want something from me?

Of course, in most cases, they simply want coverage from me. But on a psychological level, it’s weird, because the way they present themselves is literally designed to appeal to the admiration receptor in your brain.

I suppose it’s no different to any industry where there is big money to be made and a relatively small group of “opinion leaders” influencing purchasers. There’s a strong parallel in the enormous sales force of stunning pharmaceutical sales people who call upon doctors and do their best to professionally seduce them as best they can.

I’ve often wondered if PR people are simply naturally charismatic, or whether they really strategise about the sucking up.

For example, if they can ingratiate themselves enough with you on a personal level to make you feel guilty about bagging their client’s product, then they’ve already got a little hold over you.

If they can make you feel like they’re a fair dinkum friend, mate, and also enthuse you about their client’s product, you might move from writing positive to glowing reviews. And that is what achieves sales results for clients… when a journalist writes a persuasive, glowing review, the products start flying off the shelves.

Tangent: I’m aware that at this juncture, some drone at Telstra might be copying and pasting quotes from this post to use against me at some point in the future (“isn’t it an odd coincidence, Dan, that you give such positive reviews to Singtel Optus … how many of their PR people are you personal friends with? In your blog post of 18 August 2007, you said yourself that journalists can be influenced by…” yaddi yadda. So, give it a rest boys, it’s predictable and not going to get you anywhere.)

(And, incidentally, that is not the slightly paranoid writings of a jaded journalist — my contact with Telstra is along these sorts of veiled threatening lines on a weekly basis. Telstra operates on the opposite of the rest of the entire PR industry worldwide — it seems to believe that antagonising journalists as much as possible will, through some twisted sort of reverse-psychology, achieve results, though I’m yet to see any indication that it does anything other than raise the heckles of journalists and make them scrutinise Telstra more fiercely.)

So far I’ve only discussed the fawning buttering-up … there’s also the extraordinary freebies and gold-plated service that journalists get.

International trips. Every time you see that little line on an article, “XYZ attended ZYX as a guest of Big Massive Rich Company,” that translates to “All expenses on this trip were paid for, including business class flight, six star hotel accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner, ground transport and generous dollops of caviar and chocolate mousse.”

There are also journos in the industry who spend a large chunk of their year — in some cases, the majority — flying round the world on the IT industry’s corporate travel account, lapping up the luxury.

I must admit, I’m exaggerating a little… most companies nowadays fly journos economy, but there are still quite a few business class tickets being issued, and I’m certainly not complaining. Economy class flights to the US make me feel like a small part of me has died each time I take one (and given my surgical history, it’s entirely possible that there’s a granuloma of truth in that.)

I’m not being judgmental here, by the way, I’m just saying how it is. I’ve been the recipient of numerous overseas trips and of course I’m not complaining about someone else picking up the tab for me to travel to parts of the world I’ve never seen before. Plus, put me in front of execs who are involved in the creation of products, and I can always find numerous story angles … getting access to these people is invaluable.

But at the same time, I do wonder if the reading public really comprehends what that little line at the end of articles really means — a trip worth $10,000 – $15,000.

And aside from travel, if a journo ever has any sort of problem with a tech company on a personal level, it only takes a call to the PR to have it sorted in no time flat. I know from my history in corporate affairs that often, when a journo calls up with a personal request, it’s met behind the scenes with incredulity and irritation (after all, a highly paid, busy reputation consultant is going to waste an hour on an irritating customer service issue), but the journo never sees any of it. All they hear is purring consolation from the PR and a promise to get the problem fixed instantly.

It does actually make sense to fix journos’ problems immediately — it removes the problem from their lives and virtually eradicates the possibility that they’ll write a story about how abjectly crap a company’s service is. Nothing turns off prospective customers like stories of bad service (and it can often start a snowball-effect series of coverage from other customers who feel compelled to write to publications and relate their bad experiences, too.)

As a matter of principle, I always go through customer service along with every other customer in my first and second attempts to get a problem fixed. But sometimes, when I’m hitting a brick wall with some moronic customer service person who doesn’t know what they’re doing (like the telco guy who tried to tell me Blackberry Internet Service wasn’t able to download from GMail because I didn’t have my Exchange Server configured correctly), it seems like it might be doing other customers a favour to call the PR and let them know about the breakdown in customer service. Of course, it’s a privilege that the general public doesn’t get.

And the last weapon of the PR industry: deep discounts and ‘long term review product loan’. The latter is a PR industry codeword for “freebie”, but because the ownership never actually transfers to the journalist, and the company could ask for it back at any time, it sort of falls within the ethical boundaries of journalism.

The discounts are generally in the order of 15-50% on anything — essentially the manufacturers sell direct to journalists at the same price that they provide products to distributors, who then apply a profit margin and sell to shops, who then apply a profit margin, and sell to customers.

The discounts and loaners are justified by the argument that a tech journo needs to have access to products in order to be able to write knowledgeably about them, and they couldn’t possibly afford to buy them all at full retail price themselves on the money journalists earn.

There is some truth in that, actually — it’s difficult to thoroughly evaluate a product in a two week loan period when you have 30 other products to look at and are really, really busy. Sometimes ‘owning’ a product is what it takes to really appreciate the ins and outs of the product.

However, I presume that behind the gauze curtain, behind the scenes at PR agencies, they’re advising their clients that a certain amount of favour can be bought with journalists by giving them discounts and long-term product loans. I think the reality is that since every company does it, no one company achieves favour over another company.

So, as I draw to the close of this cathartic rant, I imagine you’re thinking, “so how affected are journalists by this squadron of PR people, and what about Dan in particular?”

Well, the interesting thing is that over the years I’ve noticed the sucking up has died off a bit. I imagine that most journos who’ve been doing it for more than a few years would probably say they’ve experienced the same thing. Over time, I reckon PRs get your measure and figure out whether the suck-uppage is worth the trouble. I think they’ve figured out with me that while it can certainly improve the quality of conversation at cocktail events, it’s not going to make a whit of difference to what I write.

I do have a tendency to make some companies very happy but then completely piss them off soon afterwards. What they need to realise is that there’s a strong correlation between the quality and value of their products or services and what I write… rather than a correlation between how gushing their PRs are.

As my unreal boss, Tony Sarno sometimes muses at me across his desk, “you’re an enigma, Dan… you’re so mild mannered and friendly, and yet you are an incorrigable rottweiler*.”

* that last word changed for the sake of decency.

I think it probably does take a particularly resilient PR to put up with my nibble-gnawing pestering when it comes to consumer issues, but full credit to those who do. If they fix the problem in their business, it will actually help them in the long run. Seems obvious to me, but not obvious to certain large companies.

The other side of it: threats and bullying

Although it’s kinda obvious, many companies don’t seem to understand the basic business model of publishing. The journalists build up an audience of loyal readers who feel well served by what the journalists write about. The advertising sales people sell access to those eyeballs to advertisers, who get to present whatever message they want, unabridged, within the confines of their advertising space.

Put it this way: if I piss off a vendor, I will not get in trouble, as long as I have been fair and accurate. On the other hand, if I piss off readers, and they stop reading what I write, I will get in trouble.

Companies do sometimes act vindictively to try to exert pressure on journalists. They don’t realise that this is short-sighted and won’t have any positive effect at all, simply because, there’s always a large number of their competitors lining up to get ear-time with the same journalist.

It doesn’t stop them though. I’ve had my access summarily deleted from a beta testing program because a company decided to invoke a non-disclosure clause I’d never agreed to (it was in a click-through agreement for the beta program, but my account was set up by the company) after I wrote an embarrassing story about them. This was after about 100 less-embarrassing stories about the very same beta products.

I’ve had a company defame me, and then come in the week after for coffee and a product presentation.

I’ve had companies unsubtly threaten to contact a publication I write for as a freelance writer, to raise “factual inaccuracies” in my article — presumably thinking that I’ll be worried about losing ongoing work. (In the most recent case, the PR presumably thought I might be worried about him contacting the publication over my use of the words “considerable success” when referring to the entire segment of the marketplace constituting the products that compete with his company’s.)

And then there are the companies that try to get to the journalists through the most commercial avenue of all — by cancelling all their advertising.

Of course, no publisher likes to see a big chunk of revenue go AWOL, but there’s a famous story within Cons Press about a time when one of our magazines was running ongoing coverage about a serious deficiency in Company A’s products, and Company A threatened to cancel its (multi-million dollar) advertising campaign. Cons Press stood firm and lost the advertising, but was later told by Company B and C that if Cons Press had suppressed the critical articles, company B and C would have cancelled their advertising, which, combined, was considerably more valuable than company A’s. A great example of the free market regulating itself, though I imagine the same does not necessarily apply to small publishers who regularly sell “advertising and editorial” packages, or simply squash negative articles to keep advertisers happy.

Well, that’s it, I think I’m out of puff now. I’d be interested in the observations of other journos within the industry… and PRs for that matter.

One last thing. Although my comments above do paint PRs as being generally, well, insincere, I would like to add that I have genuine respect for a lot of the PRs in the industry. I won’t name names, because inevitably I’ll leave out people who should be on the list, but there are some truly excellent people working for some of the large companies who do not bullshit, fawn or threaten.
I count a few of them as personal friends, and the genesis of that friendship came about because I felt I could really trust them and be certain that they weren’t simply manipulating me because they wanted something from me. The best PRs talk to me honestly when I ask them questions — giving me the truth of the situation ‘off the record’, and running the risk that they’d be fired and disbarred from PR if their companies knew that they’d disclosed it — and then giving me the officially quotable answer.

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80 thoughts on “The PR industry meets journalism: down the rabbit hole

  1. Steven Noble

    I’ve read your post four times. With each pass, I thought I really should leave a comment, simply because it’s one of those rare posts that really drew me in. But initially I floundered, and even now that I’ve actually started writing a comment I don’t know how it will end.

    You touch on many matters. Let me pull out a few.

    I don’t know what the PR-to-journo ratio is, but I’m sure it doesn’t matter. After, while media relations is a very important part of the job, it’s not its sum total. As a digital specialist, I spend most of time in blogs, social network services, etc, sometimes interacting with journalists but more often not. On behalf of clients, I’ve been involved in communicating with employees, customers, governments, analysts, industry bodies and directly with almost every demographic groups within what may be called “the general public”. My peers communicate directly with investors, universities, local communities; the list goes on. Of course, hardly a day goes by when I don’t interact with a journalist, but my job wouldn’t exist if PR was media relations alone.

    While the PR-to-journo ratio doesn’t matter in my opinion, the decline in journo numbers is a serious issue. It’s caused by a declining commitment to display advertising by marketers and classified advertising by individuals. It’s society’s loss. I hope that publishers can find new ways to bolster the value of their advertising services without dressing advertising up as journalism.

    A question that stood out to me was whether readers understand what “Dan travelled as a guest of XYZ PTY LTD” means? I’m sure that plenty don’t. After all, when I was a magazine editor, it became clear to me that many of my readers didn’t understand the difference between product news (the journalist quotes someone else’s opinion without personally endorsing or criticising the product) and product reviews (the journalist tests the product and personally endorses or criticises it).

    The lack of media/political/social literacy in our society is a serious issue. It disenfranchises people, but is also contributes to the simplistic oppositional attitudes that many people have to media and PR alike. I don’t know how to fix it, but we can all play our part by continuing to be as clear as possible about what we are doing and why. I think your post, by calmly and fairly explaining what it feels like to be a journalist who is constantly pursued by PR, is an example of this.

  2. Steven Noble

    I’ve read your post four times. With each pass, I thought I really should leave a comment, simply because it’s one of those rare posts that really drew me in. But initially I floundered, and even now that I’ve actually started writing a comment I don’t know how it will end.

    You touch on many matters. Let me pull out a few.

    I don’t know what the PR-to-journo ratio is, but I’m sure it doesn’t matter. After, while media relations is a very important part of the job, it’s not its sum total. As a digital specialist, I spend most of time in blogs, social network services, etc, sometimes interacting with journalists but more often not. On behalf of clients, I’ve been involved in communicating with employees, customers, governments, analysts, industry bodies and directly with almost every demographic groups within what may be called “the general public”. My peers communicate directly with investors, universities, local communities; the list goes on. Of course, hardly a day goes by when I don’t interact with a journalist, but my job wouldn’t exist if PR was media relations alone.

    While the PR-to-journo ratio doesn’t matter in my opinion, the decline in journo numbers is a serious issue. It’s caused by a declining commitment to display advertising by marketers and classified advertising by individuals. It’s society’s loss. I hope that publishers can find new ways to bolster the value of their advertising services without dressing advertising up as journalism.

    A question that stood out to me was whether readers understand what “Dan travelled as a guest of XYZ PTY LTD” means? I’m sure that plenty don’t. After all, when I was a magazine editor, it became clear to me that many of my readers didn’t understand the difference between product news (the journalist quotes someone else’s opinion without personally endorsing or criticising the product) and product reviews (the journalist tests the product and personally endorses or criticises it).

    The lack of media/political/social literacy in our society is a serious issue. It disenfranchises people, but is also contributes to the simplistic oppositional attitudes that many people have to media and PR alike. I don’t know how to fix it, but we can all play our part by continuing to be as clear as possible about what we are doing and why. I think your post, by calmly and fairly explaining what it feels like to be a journalist who is constantly pursued by PR, is an example of this.

  3. Simon Sharwood

    Nice post Dan.
    Why not put something like this in/on APC so the readers can understand how news reaches them?
    If we have nothing to hide, surely as journalists we can expose the process that goes into news making?

  4. Simon Sharwood

    Nice post Dan.
    Why not put something like this in/on APC so the readers can understand how news reaches them?
    If we have nothing to hide, surely as journalists we can expose the process that goes into news making?

  5. Daniel

    Very interesting post Dan, and having experienced the media/PR machine in quite a different area, it’s interesting to see that much of it is the same elsewhere.

  6. Daniel

    Very interesting post Dan, and having experienced the media/PR machine in quite a different area, it’s interesting to see that much of it is the same elsewhere.

  7. Hollie Turner

    Good one Dan – finally a journo comes out with some honesty and tells it like it is!

    The PR industry to date needs a good shake up to rid the ‘fakeness’ to the real.

    Keep up your daily truth doses – we like what we hear!

  8. Hollie Turner

    Good one Dan – finally a journo comes out with some honesty and tells it like it is!

    The PR industry to date needs a good shake up to rid the ‘fakeness’ to the real.

    Keep up your daily truth doses – we like what we hear!

  9. Pru Quinlan

    Dan, love it. Your post should be compulsory reading for all new PR consultants as a bare minimum and (unfortunately) also for some agency heads who insist on making their juniors swarm over journos.

    I’ve always believed as a PR professional I should treat a journalist as I would wish to be treated myself and quite frankly if I faced the sort of interactions you encounter daily I’d go spare.

    Fight the good fight.

  10. Pru Quinlan

    Dan, love it. Your post should be compulsory reading for all new PR consultants as a bare minimum and (unfortunately) also for some agency heads who insist on making their juniors swarm over journos.

    I’ve always believed as a PR professional I should treat a journalist as I would wish to be treated myself and quite frankly if I faced the sort of interactions you encounter daily I’d go spare.

    Fight the good fight.

  11. Star

    “Sometimes when I stand at the bus stop in Druitt St, Sydney, I look at the crowd of often very well dressed people around me and can’t help wondering what proportion of them are PRs.”

    I hereby certify you with obsession.

  12. Star

    “Sometimes when I stand at the bus stop in Druitt St, Sydney, I look at the crowd of often very well dressed people around me and can’t help wondering what proportion of them are PRs.”

    I hereby certify you with obsession.

  13. John Le Fevre

    I landed on your website while researching an article and was drawn to the rabbit hole comment. I was one of the start-up journalists for Computing Australia back in the mid 80’s.

    I then went on and ran my own PR firm servicing Australian IT companies for 10 years and wrote for several Mac publications in a variety of roles, including as a reviewer, before moving on to other things.

    I don’t think anyone has written an article such as this before. It should serve as a wake up to the PR/advertising industries and the readers.

    Having been in the position of organising product reviews and flying journalists off on international trips, as well as being the recipient of same, I’ve seen the industry from both sides.

    What you write is so true it’s not funny. In fact, the actions of some PROs go well beyond what you’ve written.

    When I was a working journalist on IT press the agreement with the PROs was always that I was happy to accept their offfer of a trip or product to review, but there was no guarantee they would find the subsequent story pleasing.

    I used the same yard-stick when I was the one organising the trip or supplying the product. This was also what was relayed to the client. My job was to contact the media, build their interest and try and get them to attend a certain event.

    It was up to the client to make the product or story stand and bugging an overworked journalist in an attempt to pressure them into a favorable story or review just had the wrong effect.

    These days the clients seem to have unrealistic expectations of what their PROs can achieve. Despite a strong tradition to the contrary, many clients also fail to comprehend that a freebie doesn’t buy anymore than that journalists time for the duration of the event. It doesn’t buy favorable editorial comment or support.

    My PR firm was successful because it applied the same ethics to our PR approach with journalists that the journalists themselves applied to their job.

    The problem is that whereas in the past a majority of PROs moved from journalism into the PRO role and took the ethics they were trained in into the new role, the majority of PROs have learned their skills from textbooks and have no comprehension of the ethics journalists follow or adhere to.

    Your comment, “they enjoy socialising with the hot chicks who make them feel loved.” hits the nail on the head. These days many firms think it all it takes is a hot chick in a short skirt with an alluring smile and flirty personality to garner positive press.

    Unfortunately, the ploy works on some. All journalists are subjected to it at some time or another. Only the really good ones are the ones who don’t forget their role and surrender their credibility.

    Most of the people I worked with from the 80’s and 90’s are out of the industry now from what I can gather. But people like Helen Meredith, Bev Head, Jay Spencer, David Hutchens Osmund Linde-Iverson, Don Kennedy and Stephen Withers, to name just a few, were all outstanding technology journalists who were happy to have a drink, take a trip or accept a product for review but promised nothing in return apart from the truth and the facts.

    Your article should be a compulsory handout by PROs to their clients.

  14. John Le Fevre

    I landed on your website while researching an article and was drawn to the rabbit hole comment. I was one of the start-up journalists for Computing Australia back in the mid 80’s.

    I then went on and ran my own PR firm servicing Australian IT companies for 10 years and wrote for several Mac publications in a variety of roles, including as a reviewer, before moving on to other things.

    I don’t think anyone has written an article such as this before. It should serve as a wake up to the PR/advertising industries and the readers.

    Having been in the position of organising product reviews and flying journalists off on international trips, as well as being the recipient of same, I’ve seen the industry from both sides.

    What you write is so true it’s not funny. In fact, the actions of some PROs go well beyond what you’ve written.

    When I was a working journalist on IT press the agreement with the PROs was always that I was happy to accept their offfer of a trip or product to review, but there was no guarantee they would find the subsequent story pleasing.

    I used the same yard-stick when I was the one organising the trip or supplying the product. This was also what was relayed to the client. My job was to contact the media, build their interest and try and get them to attend a certain event.

    It was up to the client to make the product or story stand and bugging an overworked journalist in an attempt to pressure them into a favorable story or review just had the wrong effect.

    These days the clients seem to have unrealistic expectations of what their PROs can achieve. Despite a strong tradition to the contrary, many clients also fail to comprehend that a freebie doesn’t buy anymore than that journalists time for the duration of the event. It doesn’t buy favorable editorial comment or support.

    My PR firm was successful because it applied the same ethics to our PR approach with journalists that the journalists themselves applied to their job.

    The problem is that whereas in the past a majority of PROs moved from journalism into the PRO role and took the ethics they were trained in into the new role, the majority of PROs have learned their skills from textbooks and have no comprehension of the ethics journalists follow or adhere to.

    Your comment, “they enjoy socialising with the hot chicks who make them feel loved.” hits the nail on the head. These days many firms think it all it takes is a hot chick in a short skirt with an alluring smile and flirty personality to garner positive press.

    Unfortunately, the ploy works on some. All journalists are subjected to it at some time or another. Only the really good ones are the ones who don’t forget their role and surrender their credibility.

    Most of the people I worked with from the 80’s and 90’s are out of the industry now from what I can gather. But people like Helen Meredith, Bev Head, Jay Spencer, David Hutchens Osmund Linde-Iverson, Don Kennedy and Stephen Withers, to name just a few, were all outstanding technology journalists who were happy to have a drink, take a trip or accept a product for review but promised nothing in return apart from the truth and the facts.

    Your article should be a compulsory handout by PROs to their clients.

  15. Star

    “I don’t think anyone has written an article such as this before.”

    John, I think you’re right.

    I think what we have witnessed on this webpage may be one of most insightful pieces on the modern media landscape to have been written this century.

    Indeed, I don’t think it’d be going too far to say it challenges the very foundations of society as we know them.

    I’m going to run off now to have it framed.

  16. Star

    “I don’t think anyone has written an article such as this before.”

    John, I think you’re right.

    I think what we have witnessed on this webpage may be one of most insightful pieces on the modern media landscape to have been written this century.

    Indeed, I don’t think it’d be going too far to say it challenges the very foundations of society as we know them.

    I’m going to run off now to have it framed.

  17. danwarne Post author

    “Star” — nice baiting attempt, especially the “rbruem@telstra.com” email address you used — may have been more effective if you’d actually researched the naming syntax Telstra uses for email addresses.

  18. danwarne

    “Star” — nice baiting attempt, especially the “rbruem@telstra.com” email address you used — may have been more effective if you’d actually researched the naming syntax Telstra uses for email addresses.

  19. chrisr

    Dan,

    Perhaps you should have a register on your publications listing all travel and long term loans etc supplied by vendors with an aprox cash cost, that could also be sorted by company total spend?

    Perhaps that would bring some transparency and you could lead by example?

    Also I doubt the PR’s you are seeing probably earn as much as you think if they are at the bus stop with you πŸ™‚

    Well charge out rates are high, the people at the top are the ones making the margins.

    I am sure the average PR makes more than the average journo but to be honest that doesn’t say that much…

  20. chrisr

    Dan,

    Perhaps you should have a register on your publications listing all travel and long term loans etc supplied by vendors with an aprox cash cost, that could also be sorted by company total spend?

    Perhaps that would bring some transparency and you could lead by example?

    Also I doubt the PR’s you are seeing probably earn as much as you think if they are at the bus stop with you πŸ™‚

    Well charge out rates are high, the people at the top are the ones making the margins.

    I am sure the average PR makes more than the average journo but to be honest that doesn’t say that much…

  21. Rob Irwin

    Dan, you make it sound like every PR bod is like this and you know, as well as I do, that’s a porky pie πŸ™‚ Yes, there are some stunningly sycophantic types out there, who seem to have learned all their moves and expressions from bad 80s movies, I totally agree, but there are also a goodly number who are straight operators, too. As for the o/s trips, freebies, etc, if they cause such angst… don’t take ’em πŸ˜‰

  22. Rob Irwin

    Dan, you make it sound like every PR bod is like this and you know, as well as I do, that’s a porky pie πŸ™‚ Yes, there are some stunningly sycophantic types out there, who seem to have learned all their moves and expressions from bad 80s movies, I totally agree, but there are also a goodly number who are straight operators, too. As for the o/s trips, freebies, etc, if they cause such angst… don’t take ’em πŸ˜‰

  23. danwarne

    Hey Rob… if you read to the end of the article I do actually say that not all PRs are like this. And I also say in the article that I enjoy the free trips as much as the next guy… they don’t cause me angst; I just thought it would be an interesting blog post to write about the engagement, largely cloaked from the public, between PR and the media.

  24. danwarne Post author

    Hey Rob… if you read to the end of the article I do actually say that not all PRs are like this. And I also say in the article that I enjoy the free trips as much as the next guy… they don’t cause me angst; I just thought it would be an interesting blog post to write about the engagement, largely cloaked from the public, between PR and the media.

  25. Rob Irwin

    Yes, but you paint such a vulgar picture of the industry as a whole, that the little, “Oh, but there are some OK ones, too…” tucked away at the end of the piece doesn’t really offset, to my mind, the massive offensive you’ve laid in the first 40-odd pars. That’s more what I’m getting at.

  26. Rob Irwin

    Yes, but you paint such a vulgar picture of the industry as a whole, that the little, “Oh, but there are some OK ones, too…” tucked away at the end of the piece doesn’t really offset, to my mind, the massive offensive you’ve laid in the first 40-odd pars. That’s more what I’m getting at.

  27. Simon Sharwood

    Rob, I think PR is a vulgar industry. That’s why I left it.
    To me, PR exists to persuade people to consider ideas that are not sufficiently powerful that media will naturally consider them.
    It’s like Coca-Cola, a product so mediocre that it only stays afloat thanks to astounding amounts of advertising.
    I have long believed that media should fight back against this by PR by making PR interactions transparent – if readers know how things come to be in the media it is better for them and better for media!

  28. Simon Sharwood

    Rob, I think PR is a vulgar industry. That’s why I left it.
    To me, PR exists to persuade people to consider ideas that are not sufficiently powerful that media will naturally consider them.
    It’s like Coca-Cola, a product so mediocre that it only stays afloat thanks to astounding amounts of advertising.
    I have long believed that media should fight back against this by PR by making PR interactions transparent – if readers know how things come to be in the media it is better for them and better for media!

  29. Thinker

    The yardstick of ethics at work should always be “if this was reported in the press, how would the company look?”.

    How would most PR people look in this light?

    Dan, as a fellow tech journalist I heartily agree with the sentiments you have expressed in this article. I recommend any journalist to read the book “Inside Spin: The Dark Underbelly of the Australian PR Industry” to get some insight into how some tech PR companies (eg Hill & Knowlton, PPR) really work.

    Cheers,

    Thinker

  30. Thinker

    The yardstick of ethics at work should always be “if this was reported in the press, how would the company look?”.

    How would most PR people look in this light?

    Dan, as a fellow tech journalist I heartily agree with the sentiments you have expressed in this article. I recommend any journalist to read the book “Inside Spin: The Dark Underbelly of the Australian PR Industry” to get some insight into how some tech PR companies (eg Hill & Knowlton, PPR) really work.

    Cheers,

    Thinker

  31. Rob Irwin

    Oh I’ve sat by you at pressers and I know exactly how you feel, mate. You wear your heart on your sleeve, yes. But if you take that line to its logical conclusion, you’d have companies not advertising, not putting out press releases, not holding events… basically not telling anyone, anything, anywhere. The marketing of a product — whether you like the product in question or think it’s a load of cobblers — is an essential part of that product’s make-up and lifespan. And PR is part of that marketing effort. So although it might not float your boat and, of course, I share your heartache when the millionth marketing manager gives yet another non-answer at a press conference, at its core there’s a reason for doing it… and I think the real problem is that not as many companies get it right as we’d like; whether through their internal people, or externally through agencies. I think there’s a lot to be said for people who DO get it right. It IS possible πŸ™‚

  32. Rob Irwin

    Oh I’ve sat by you at pressers and I know exactly how you feel, mate. You wear your heart on your sleeve, yes. But if you take that line to its logical conclusion, you’d have companies not advertising, not putting out press releases, not holding events… basically not telling anyone, anything, anywhere. The marketing of a product — whether you like the product in question or think it’s a load of cobblers — is an essential part of that product’s make-up and lifespan. And PR is part of that marketing effort. So although it might not float your boat and, of course, I share your heartache when the millionth marketing manager gives yet another non-answer at a press conference, at its core there’s a reason for doing it… and I think the real problem is that not as many companies get it right as we’d like; whether through their internal people, or externally through agencies. I think there’s a lot to be said for people who DO get it right. It IS possible πŸ™‚

  33. danwarne

    I think you’re still misunderstanding my intentions though Rob… I wasn’t criticising the PR/media engagement, just writing about how it is.

    I suppose it’s an unusual thing just to do a ‘brain dump’ — usually people expect there to be an assertion behind a piece like this. But that wasn’t my intention — it was simply a post about what it’s like engaging with PR — mainly for people who wouldn’t have insight into the media (though it appears to have been of interest to people in the media too.)

  34. danwarne Post author

    I think you’re still misunderstanding my intentions though Rob… I wasn’t criticising the PR/media engagement, just writing about how it is.

    I suppose it’s an unusual thing just to do a ‘brain dump’ — usually people expect there to be an assertion behind a piece like this. But that wasn’t my intention — it was simply a post about what it’s like engaging with PR — mainly for people who wouldn’t have insight into the media (though it appears to have been of interest to people in the media too.)

  35. Scott Pettet

    Interesting post Dan. Having only worked on the PR side of the fence, I can only imagine the carry-on. I do find it quite fascinating however!

    It’s unfortunate too from my side, as from time to time you might meet a journo and think they’re someone you could have a genuine friendship with, but find yourself ‘stepping back’ (as you put it) as you don’t want them to question your motives.

    We humans are curious creatures πŸ™‚

  36. Scott Pettet

    Interesting post Dan. Having only worked on the PR side of the fence, I can only imagine the carry-on. I do find it quite fascinating however!

    It’s unfortunate too from my side, as from time to time you might meet a journo and think they’re someone you could have a genuine friendship with, but find yourself ‘stepping back’ (as you put it) as you don’t want them to question your motives.

    We humans are curious creatures πŸ™‚

  37. Rob Irwin

    Indeed. As Mahesh has already said, “What’s the point of all this?” and I guess I was thinking there was more of an assertion there, myself. Now I’m getting what you mean — and more power to you for that. I think this CAN be a very weird industry at times, and folks might enjoy the insight. I guess as someone who’s been kicking around for awhile himself, I was trying to look beyond the “stuff I already knew” for something more. For others, I can just imagine them all shaking their heads as they read what you wrote… something I’ve seen so many times when people have asked, “Where have you been?” and I’ve had to explain getting flown to the US or Japan or similar, getting wined and dined and ending up at some bizarre underground club at 3am… all on someone else’s tab. This isn’t a normal lifestyle and it kind of scares me that some in our industry act like it is…

  38. Rob Irwin

    Indeed. As Mahesh has already said, “What’s the point of all this?” and I guess I was thinking there was more of an assertion there, myself. Now I’m getting what you mean — and more power to you for that. I think this CAN be a very weird industry at times, and folks might enjoy the insight. I guess as someone who’s been kicking around for awhile himself, I was trying to look beyond the “stuff I already knew” for something more. For others, I can just imagine them all shaking their heads as they read what you wrote… something I’ve seen so many times when people have asked, “Where have you been?” and I’ve had to explain getting flown to the US or Japan or similar, getting wined and dined and ending up at some bizarre underground club at 3am… all on someone else’s tab. This isn’t a normal lifestyle and it kind of scares me that some in our industry act like it is…

  39. danwarne

    Very interesting point Scott, and nice to hear the other side of it.

    Perhaps we should all be less suspicious of each others’ motives πŸ˜‰

  40. danwarne Post author

    Very interesting point Scott, and nice to hear the other side of it.

    Perhaps we should all be less suspicious of each others’ motives πŸ˜‰

  41. Simon Sharwood

    Rob, I understand that PR is part of the great and necessary commercial courtship between vendors and the public.
    But what I do not understand about PR is how and why it so often descends into duplicity or dumbness.
    For example, I often get told that products are ‘very easy to use’ as if that is news. Now it would be news if someone made a product very hard to use. But the mealy-mouthed stuff served up in the hope of scoring some coverage is often pap of the highest order.
    I found it demeaning to be told to serve it up by clients, because it demeans the media as well as the PR!

  42. Simon Sharwood

    Rob, I understand that PR is part of the great and necessary commercial courtship between vendors and the public.
    But what I do not understand about PR is how and why it so often descends into duplicity or dumbness.
    For example, I often get told that products are ‘very easy to use’ as if that is news. Now it would be news if someone made a product very hard to use. But the mealy-mouthed stuff served up in the hope of scoring some coverage is often pap of the highest order.
    I found it demeaning to be told to serve it up by clients, because it demeans the media as well as the PR!

  43. Simon Sharwood

    Rob, I understand that PR is part of the great and necessary commercial courtship between vendors and the public.
    But what I do not understand about PR is how and why it so often descends into duplicity or dumbness.
    For example, I often get told that products are ‘very easy to use’ as if that is news. Now it would be news if someone made a product very hard to use. But the mealy-mouthed stuff served up in the hope of scoring some coverage is often pap of the highest order.
    I found it demeaning to be told to serve it up by clients, because it demeans the media as well as the PR!

  44. Tim Dean

    Interesting post Dan. And something I talk about often with my partner – who is in PR.

    Now – perhaps because I’ve been neck deep in science these last months – it seems to me some insight in this issue could be found in game theory.

    The relationship between journalist and PR can be expressed as two agents seeking to maximise their outcome (good story for the journo; good exposure for the PR) in a non-zero sum game where they can either cooperate (communicate honestly) or betray (communicate dishonestly or not communicate at all).

    You punch this in to something like the prisoner’s dilemma matrix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma) and I reckon you’d see something startlingly like what Dan describes.

    There’d be roughly four outcomes.

    1) Journo and PR cooperate and speak honestly – both gain a reasonable amount – the journo gets a decent story, the PR’s client gets some moderate exposure.

    2) PR hypes things up, buys drinks and/or flies the journo to Disneyland (the ‘carrot) – maybe even with the threat of not speaking to the journo as a ‘stick’. The PR ‘buys’ themselves a great story, but the journo suffers because they’ve fallen for an overhyped product/story that isn’t as interesting to their audience as it should have been.

    3) Journo unleashes on the PR, writes a crippling criticism of their client’s product and wins points with their audience at the expense of relationship with the company.

    4) Both journo and PR don’t speak, so journo doesn’t get valuable material for their audience, and PR doesn’t get exposure.

    Ultimately, in this model, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an equilibrium form (a Nash equilibrium, a la Beautiful Mind guy, just to get even more geeky) where things would oscillate between all four outcomes – eventually settling in most players cooperating (1), with the occasional defection (2, 3) leading to total defection (4), then to recognition that’s not ideal, so swinging back to cooperation.

    And the kicker is this: it’s just rants like Dan’s that are expected in this model. They help kick things to the next phase. You need vocal players on each side driving their agenda to push the model into equilibrium.

    Hey, no one side may ever ‘win’, but ultimately things will settle down for the long term good of all.

    This is just one model, but it seems to have vague fitness to me…

    So yeah – fight the power Dan. You’re doing a bang up job.

  45. Tim Dean

    Interesting post Dan. And something I talk about often with my partner – who is in PR.

    Now – perhaps because I’ve been neck deep in science these last months – it seems to me some insight in this issue could be found in game theory.

    The relationship between journalist and PR can be expressed as two agents seeking to maximise their outcome (good story for the journo; good exposure for the PR) in a non-zero sum game where they can either cooperate (communicate honestly) or betray (communicate dishonestly or not communicate at all).

    You punch this in to something like the prisoner’s dilemma matrix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma) and I reckon you’d see something startlingly like what Dan describes.

    There’d be roughly four outcomes.

    1) Journo and PR cooperate and speak honestly – both gain a reasonable amount – the journo gets a decent story, the PR’s client gets some moderate exposure.

    2) PR hypes things up, buys drinks and/or flies the journo to Disneyland (the ‘carrot) – maybe even with the threat of not speaking to the journo as a ‘stick’. The PR ‘buys’ themselves a great story, but the journo suffers because they’ve fallen for an overhyped product/story that isn’t as interesting to their audience as it should have been.

    3) Journo unleashes on the PR, writes a crippling criticism of their client’s product and wins points with their audience at the expense of relationship with the company.

    4) Both journo and PR don’t speak, so journo doesn’t get valuable material for their audience, and PR doesn’t get exposure.

    Ultimately, in this model, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an equilibrium form (a Nash equilibrium, a la Beautiful Mind guy, just to get even more geeky) where things would oscillate between all four outcomes – eventually settling in most players cooperating (1), with the occasional defection (2, 3) leading to total defection (4), then to recognition that’s not ideal, so swinging back to cooperation.

    And the kicker is this: it’s just rants like Dan’s that are expected in this model. They help kick things to the next phase. You need vocal players on each side driving their agenda to push the model into equilibrium.

    Hey, no one side may ever ‘win’, but ultimately things will settle down for the long term good of all.

    This is just one model, but it seems to have vague fitness to me…

    So yeah – fight the power Dan. You’re doing a bang up job.

  46. Tim Dean

    Interesting post Dan. And something I talk about often with my partner – who is in PR.

    Now – perhaps because I’ve been neck deep in science these last months – it seems to me some insight in this issue could be found in game theory.

    The relationship between journalist and PR can be expressed as two agents seeking to maximise their outcome (good story for the journo; good exposure for the PR) in a non-zero sum game where they can either cooperate (communicate honestly) or betray (communicate dishonestly or not communicate at all).

    You punch this in to something like the prisoner’s dilemma matrix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma) and I reckon you’d see something startlingly like what Dan describes.

    There’d be roughly four outcomes.

    1) Journo and PR cooperate and speak honestly – both gain a reasonable amount – the journo gets a decent story, the PR’s client gets some moderate exposure.

    2) PR hypes things up, buys drinks and/or flies the journo to Disneyland (the ‘carrot) – maybe even with the threat of not speaking to the journo as a ‘stick’. The PR ‘buys’ themselves a great story, but the journo suffers because they’ve fallen for an overhyped product/story that isn’t as interesting to their audience as it should have been.

    3) Journo unleashes on the PR, writes a crippling criticism of their client’s product and wins points with their audience at the expense of relationship with the company.

    4) Both journo and PR don’t speak, so journo doesn’t get valuable material for their audience, and PR doesn’t get exposure.

    Ultimately, in this model, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an equilibrium form (a Nash equilibrium, a la Beautiful Mind guy, just to get even more geeky) where things would oscillate between all four outcomes – eventually settling in most players cooperating (1), with the occasional defection (2, 3) leading to total defection (4), then to recognition that’s not ideal, so swinging back to cooperation.

    And the kicker is this: it’s just rants like Dan’s that are expected in this model. They help kick things to the next phase. You need vocal players on each side driving their agenda to push the model into equilibrium.

    Hey, no one side may ever ‘win’, but ultimately things will settle down for the long term good of all.

    This is just one model, but it seems to have vague fitness to me…

    So yeah – fight the power Dan. You’re doing a bang up job.

  47. Linda Kennedy

    Ò€œThank God for the model trains, you know? If they didn’t have the model trains they wouldn’t have gotten the idea for the big trains.Ò€
    Amber Cole, eastern European escapee and PR agent.
    A Mighty Wind, 2003

  48. Linda Kennedy

    Ò€œThank God for the model trains, you know? If they didn’t have the model trains they wouldn’t have gotten the idea for the big trains.Ò€
    Amber Cole, eastern European escapee and PR agent.
    A Mighty Wind, 2003

  49. Linda Kennedy

    Ò€œThank God for the model trains, you know? If they didn’t have the model trains they wouldn’t have gotten the idea for the big trains.Ò€
    Amber Cole, eastern European escapee and PR agent.
    A Mighty Wind, 2003

  50. danwarne

    A colleague emailed me these thoughts but didn’t want to post a comment in his name. However I don’t think he’d mind me sharing them anonymously…

    ——

    Read your stuff on the PR industry – very good mate, very entertaining.

    I think the reason I liked it so much was because years and years ago, when I was young and getting into commenting on tech:

    – I thought that the hot chick PR people actually thought I was an interesting person who was fun to hang out with!!

    – the free keyboard was just a nice gesture

    – lunch was provided because I was probably hungry

    – the attention from PR was because I was an important person with important opinions

    – a heartfelt ‘I need a favour’ was from a good friend who needed a knight in shining armour and it was only me who could save the day

    Your piece highlights what took years for me to learn. I am glad it is on the web for all to read, especially those who are new to the industry.

  51. danwarne

    A colleague emailed me these thoughts but didn’t want to post a comment in his name. However I don’t think he’d mind me sharing them anonymously…

    ——

    Read your stuff on the PR industry – very good mate, very entertaining.

    I think the reason I liked it so much was because years and years ago, when I was young and getting into commenting on tech:

    – I thought that the hot chick PR people actually thought I was an interesting person who was fun to hang out with!!

    – the free keyboard was just a nice gesture

    – lunch was provided because I was probably hungry

    – the attention from PR was because I was an important person with important opinions

    – a heartfelt ‘I need a favour’ was from a good friend who needed a knight in shining armour and it was only me who could save the day

    Your piece highlights what took years for me to learn. I am glad it is on the web for all to read, especially those who are new to the industry.

  52. danwarne Post author

    A colleague emailed me these thoughts but didn’t want to post a comment in his name. However I don’t think he’d mind me sharing them anonymously…

    ——

    Read your stuff on the PR industry – very good mate, very entertaining.

    I think the reason I liked it so much was because years and years ago, when I was young and getting into commenting on tech:

    – I thought that the hot chick PR people actually thought I was an interesting person who was fun to hang out with!!

    – the free keyboard was just a nice gesture

    – lunch was provided because I was probably hungry

    – the attention from PR was because I was an important person with important opinions

    – a heartfelt ‘I need a favour’ was from a good friend who needed a knight in shining armour and it was only me who could save the day

    Your piece highlights what took years for me to learn. I am glad it is on the web for all to read, especially those who are new to the industry.

  53. Rob Irwin

    It’s such a shame when people with such strong opinions won’t put a name to them. After all, if the comments are the truth — or at least the truth as that person perceives it — what’s the problem with putting a name to them?

  54. Rob Irwin

    It’s such a shame when people with such strong opinions won’t put a name to them. After all, if the comments are the truth — or at least the truth as that person perceives it — what’s the problem with putting a name to them?

  55. Scott Pettet

    Damn!! I always suspected I was at a disadvantage not being a ‘hot chick’. I guess that just means us non-hot folk need to have a bit more substance behind us.

    ‘Free’ keyboard = Buying favour

    Loan keyboard = legitimate review

    Free lunch = considerate

    Free lunch followed by luxury night’s accommodation for journo + spouse = suss

    Attention from PR person = you’re important

    Rectal examination from PR person = ego play

    PR person uses the phrase ‘I need a favor’ (unless they need a hand moving a fridge) – they’re seriously taking the piss and your bullshit detector is defective.

    Scott

  56. Scott Pettet

    Damn!! I always suspected I was at a disadvantage not being a ‘hot chick’. I guess that just means us non-hot folk need to have a bit more substance behind us.

    ‘Free’ keyboard = Buying favour

    Loan keyboard = legitimate review

    Free lunch = considerate

    Free lunch followed by luxury night’s accommodation for journo + spouse = suss

    Attention from PR person = you’re important

    Rectal examination from PR person = ego play

    PR person uses the phrase ‘I need a favor’ (unless they need a hand moving a fridge) – they’re seriously taking the piss and your bullshit detector is defective.

    Scott

  57. Scott Pettet

    Damn!! I always suspected I was at a disadvantage not being a ‘hot chick’. I guess that just means us non-hot folk need to have a bit more substance behind us.

    ‘Free’ keyboard = Buying favour

    Loan keyboard = legitimate review

    Free lunch = considerate

    Free lunch followed by luxury night’s accommodation for journo + spouse = suss

    Attention from PR person = you’re important

    Rectal examination from PR person = ego play

    PR person uses the phrase ‘I need a favor’ (unless they need a hand moving a fridge) – they’re seriously taking the piss and your bullshit detector is defective.

    Scott

  58. Simon Sharwood

    I am often asked at the end of chats with PR people if “there is anything else” they can do for me.
    Sometimes I look over at the big pile of unfolded, unironed laundry in the study and think to myself “would they? …”

  59. Simon Sharwood

    I am often asked at the end of chats with PR people if “there is anything else” they can do for me.
    Sometimes I look over at the big pile of unfolded, unironed laundry in the study and think to myself “would they? …”

  60. Simon Sharwood

    I am often asked at the end of chats with PR people if “there is anything else” they can do for me.
    Sometimes I look over at the big pile of unfolded, unironed laundry in the study and think to myself “would they? …”

  61. anon

    I changed career out of journalism, and thus had the opportunity to see whether PR friendships were genuine or utilitarian. I found they were mostly utilitarian. Once I was no longer useful to PRs, they generally stopped talking to me.

    Certainly, they no longer found my conversation scintillating enough to flatter me or invite me to lunch.

    This is fair enough, but I wish they had been direct about it.

    Also, in my new roles I saw an alarming side of PR. For example, one firm tricked journalists by having a pretend freelancer ask a particular question at a press conference. The executives had been briefed as to how they should respond, and their fake concern convinced the journalists they had a hot story. Instead it was just a clever marketing operation.

    There was also a case where a PR firm successfully undermined a journalist whose coverage of their client was a bit too accurate. They didn’t complain to his editor. They just arranged for the client MD to casually bump into the editor and publisher at a function, and casually mention some false allegations that reflected badly on the journalist.

    That affected the editor’s trust in the journalist, and led to him leaving the publication a few months afterwards. Mission accomplished.

  62. anon

    I changed career out of journalism, and thus had the opportunity to see whether PR friendships were genuine or utilitarian. I found they were mostly utilitarian. Once I was no longer useful to PRs, they generally stopped talking to me.

    Certainly, they no longer found my conversation scintillating enough to flatter me or invite me to lunch.

    This is fair enough, but I wish they had been direct about it.

    Also, in my new roles I saw an alarming side of PR. For example, one firm tricked journalists by having a pretend freelancer ask a particular question at a press conference. The executives had been briefed as to how they should respond, and their fake concern convinced the journalists they had a hot story. Instead it was just a clever marketing operation.

    There was also a case where a PR firm successfully undermined a journalist whose coverage of their client was a bit too accurate. They didn’t complain to his editor. They just arranged for the client MD to casually bump into the editor and publisher at a function, and casually mention some false allegations that reflected badly on the journalist.

    That affected the editor’s trust in the journalist, and led to him leaving the publication a few months afterwards. Mission accomplished.

  63. anon

    I changed career out of journalism, and thus had the opportunity to see whether PR friendships were genuine or utilitarian. I found they were mostly utilitarian. Once I was no longer useful to PRs, they generally stopped talking to me.

    Certainly, they no longer found my conversation scintillating enough to flatter me or invite me to lunch.

    This is fair enough, but I wish they had been direct about it.

    Also, in my new roles I saw an alarming side of PR. For example, one firm tricked journalists by having a pretend freelancer ask a particular question at a press conference. The executives had been briefed as to how they should respond, and their fake concern convinced the journalists they had a hot story. Instead it was just a clever marketing operation.

    There was also a case where a PR firm successfully undermined a journalist whose coverage of their client was a bit too accurate. They didn’t complain to his editor. They just arranged for the client MD to casually bump into the editor and publisher at a function, and casually mention some false allegations that reflected badly on the journalist.

    That affected the editor’s trust in the journalist, and led to him leaving the publication a few months afterwards. Mission accomplished.

  64. syms covington

    Great post. The only amendment I would make is that every once in a while those “hot chicks” go above and beyond the call of duty to make a journo feel loved – at least in my once-off experience. They didn’t get a story out of me though, but I got a hell of a story…

  65. syms covington

    Great post. The only amendment I would make is that every once in a while those “hot chicks” go above and beyond the call of duty to make a journo feel loved – at least in my once-off experience. They didn’t get a story out of me though, but I got a hell of a story…

  66. syms covington

    Great post. The only amendment I would make is that every once in a while those “hot chicks” go above and beyond the call of duty to make a journo feel loved – at least in my once-off experience. They didn’t get a story out of me though, but I got a hell of a story…

  67. Anonymous

    I can appreciate that journo’s are underpaid and under-resourced relative to PR workers.

    But I’ve never heard an explanation as to why the PR industry has got so big in the first place.

    As a journalism graduate with relatively right wing political views, I think journalists themselves maybe party to blame.

    Since modern journalism graduates tend to be left-wing, always looking out for the underdog types, businesses perceive them to be anti-business, and in an age where branding and image are such a big part of their profits, they are inevitably going to greater lengths to protect themselves from what they believe to be adverse publicity.

    Admittedly I have no evidence for my theory, but I do know that US businesses give more donations to left wing causes (eg environmental groups) than right wing ones (eg, pro-business think tanks), so it’s clear who they fear the most.

  68. Anonymous

    I can appreciate that journo’s are underpaid and under-resourced relative to PR workers.

    But I’ve never heard an explanation as to why the PR industry has got so big in the first place.

    As a journalism graduate with relatively right wing political views, I think journalists themselves maybe party to blame.

    Since modern journalism graduates tend to be left-wing, always looking out for the underdog types, businesses perceive them to be anti-business, and in an age where branding and image are such a big part of their profits, they are inevitably going to greater lengths to protect themselves from what they believe to be adverse publicity.

    Admittedly I have no evidence for my theory, but I do know that US businesses give more donations to left wing causes (eg environmental groups) than right wing ones (eg, pro-business think tanks), so it’s clear who they fear the most.

  69. mike

    I can appreciate that journo’s are underpaid and under-resourced relative to PR workers.

    But I’ve never heard an explanation as to why the PR industry has got so big in the first place.

    As a journalism graduate with relatively right wing political views, I think journalists themselves maybe party to blame.

    Since modern journalism graduates tend to be left-wing, always looking out for the underdog types, businesses perceive them to be anti-business, and in an age where branding and image are such a big part of their profits, they are inevitably going to greater lengths to protect themselves from what they believe to be adverse publicity.

    Admittedly I have no evidence for my theory, but I do know that US businesses give more donations to left wing causes (eg environmental groups) than right wing ones (eg, pro-business think tanks), so it’s clear who they fear the most.

  70. bewildered

    What about someone who works hard but is not good looking and rich??? Is their PR career doomed before it even starts???

  71. bewildered

    What about someone who works hard but is not good looking and rich??? Is their PR career doomed before it even starts???

  72. bewildered

    What about someone who works hard but is not good looking and rich??? Is their PR career doomed before it even starts???

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