Posts Tagged ‘PR agents’


(Picture courtesy Workers Solidarity Movement)

PR agencies are mostly a bane and never a boon (unless you are a cover-seeking journalist or you have the rare good fortune of meeting a decently efficient + knowledgeable PR agent).

The communication skills of PR agencies are notoriously poor.  They keep addressing you as “dear” (quite inappropriate and too close for comfort) and send “gretings to you” (PRs are notorious spellers; I am sure they would never be accepted even in Hufflepuff at Hogwarts).

They keep trying to give you calenders, diaries, pens, notebooks, money (covers), gifts, freebies, gift coupons & junkets which you don’t want. But they will never give you the things you do want like contact information, phone number, email ID, press releases and photographs.

Further they believe in sending “backrounders” (I warned you they were bad at spellings), which contain no useful information other than what they mistakenly copy pasted from the company website.

One PR agent sent me the company’s 2004 annual report, when I wanted to know their sales figures in 2008. Maybe I was supposed to compute my own statistics based on their average rate of growth?

pop0432They also have no clue as to what the company’s objectives really are. What is galling is they make so much money, just by convincing the company that they were responsible for the journalist’s reports, which were filed after zero consultation with the PR agency.

When you look at the amount of money they make just by pretending they are responsible for half the stories that get printed, I think it would be more profitable for media owners if they  just started PR agencies for every edition that they have…then they can at least be assured that all profits from ad space and editorial space comes only to them.

Of course, the idea is not new, considering that some newspapers have gone ahead and drawn an agreement with a long list of private companies companies for editorial space…..still starting a PR agency might make things clearer for the reader – who is publishing the news, why are they publishing it? for whom are they publishing it? what benefits its publication will have?

And then again there are the disclaimers that PR agencies send with their mail. The disclaimers are usually longer than the contents of the mail – as the contents of the mail are written by PR agents who are bad at spellings and company info and the disclaimers are written by legal consultants who are very bad at precise writing.

Anyway these disclaimers don’t make sense.

Information contained in any e-mail transmitted from or on behalf of XXX PR agency are confidential and intended solely for the addressee(s) and may be legally privileged or prohibited from disclosure and unauthorized use. Information contained is also under copyright of XXXX PR agency and should not be re-printed, re-published or used by any one other than the addresse. No legally binding commitments will be created by this E-mail message. XXX PR agency may not be held responsible for the content of this email as it may reflect the personal view of the sender and not that of the company.

If its under copyright, how come X & Co can’t be held responsible for its contents? Or maybe they realised that some PR agents were sending A-jokes to journalists in an attempt to get over-friendly..Hmm! Maybe just like the Working Journalists Act, we could have the Abolishment of PR Agencies Act? 🙂

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1)The argumentative journalist: The journalist who believes he shouldn’t stop with asking questions in a press meet. No press meet is complete unless he gets into an argument with the main speaker.

(e.g.) At a press meet, in which late forest brigand Veerappan‘s wife Muthulakshmi was protesting against airing a serial on the life of Veerappan by a popular Tamil TV channel, this kind of a nuisance cropped up. Ms Muthulakshmi felt that her two girls had already faced enough discrimination from the school management and in the interests of the girls’ education demanded that the channel refrain from raking up the issue.

The argumentative journalist: Why can’t they air the serial?

Muthulakshmi: You see sir, they are…

The argumentative journalist: (Interrupts) Why are you preventing them from airing the serial?

Muthulakshmi: Sir, my girls..

The argumentative journalist: Will you allow them if they give you any royalty?

(By this time, Muthulakshmi is in tears..and the organisers are trying to close the press meet. And this guy walks out proud, thinking he’s another Karan Thapar, who succesfully got Kapil Dev to cry..)

2)The cover-seeking journalist: This journalist will ask a hundred-one questions (to justify his taking money) or ask none at all (as he wants to draw no attention to himself or the money he’s getting from the organisers). He’s also the one guy who gets a bad name for everybody else in the profession. You can easily spot this guy, as he’s found to be hanging with the orgainsers most of the time, rather than with the speakers at the press meet.

3)The honesty-advertising journalist: Most journalists working for English newspapers don’t accept money (because they are reasonably well-paid and social norms)….but there’s a difference between the honest and the honesty-advertising journalist.

The super-honest journalist shows off his honesty:

  • by abusing PR agents. He feels his honesty is directly proportional to how badly he treats these people, who are paid good money to be sycophants and lobbiers
  • by taking only the press release and returning everything else in the press kit (honest journalists also do the same; but they don’t brag about it so that everyone else at the event can hear)
  • by not taking, coffee, tea, food or drinks at the meet, as he will not be under any obligation whatsoever to write favourably about that company (Of course, the same guy the minute he gets back to his office, might write a 800-word piece praising the company, if he’s told its an Editor’s Must)
  • by wearing torn slippers, a joulna bag, a kurta and spectacles

4)The arrogant journalist: Everywhere there’s a hierarchy. And in the newspaper industry in Chennai, the people at the bottom of the rung are Tamil/vernacular newspaper journalists; next come News Today and news websites; next Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle. Crowing it at the top are Hindu’s journalists. Joining them at the top is the ex-Express, now TOI team (Times of India).

Earlier, PR and HR guys would not start the press conference till the Hindu journalist came, even though every other journalist in the hall would be fuming at the delay and the obvious partiality/toad-eating. When finally the Hindu journalist arrived, he would cross his legs, ignore all the other journalists, pretend he is God and generally make a nuisance of himself. The opening statement of any conversation of his would be: “I’m from the Hindu” (like he owned the paper).

5)The know-it-all journalist: These people abound, even the honest, nice journalists sometimes get this way. They have to introduce irrelevant, unnecessary details just so that they can exhibit their knowledge. Most of often, the guy would have done a google search on the subject 20 minutes before leaving for the press conference and thinks he knows everything.

(e.g) At a recent press conference in which a city hospital announced the first oozyte pregnancy in India (I don’t if it was the first, but every Chennai hospital is competing for media space that they are the first in something….soon they might even announce: “We are the first and only hospital with 0% recovery”). Everyone else was interested in the legal, ethical and medical implications of using this method. One bright person alone acted like a school student with her science teacher.

The know-it-all journalist: Like more than 70% of any living cell is made of water. So when you freeze the egg, does it turn into ice? Won’t it die?

Doctor: No, using our rapid freezing technique, the egg will not decay

The know-it-all journalist: But if it is frozen to sub-zero temperatures it will die. Right?

The Doctor launches into a highly-complicated explanation on why the embryo is not dead. While all the journalists want the accompanying lunch and not the explanation.

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