25 April 2007

Day in the life....

Finally the mid-tier IT company that you’ve been battling with all year gives you some good news - the CEO is coming to the UK in three weeks. “He’s got some news, not sure what it is yet. Word is, it’s a European acquisition. You’ve got a half day for media stuff, the rest of his time here is dedicated to customer meetings.”

As half page articles in The Economist and Financial Times - and even a CBR front cover - race through your mind, you imagine the reflected glory and look forward to ringing some well placed journalists with something they’ll actually find interesting.

And you know the UK marketing manager is going to love the results. There’s a definite buzz. She’s asked you to check the cost of PR Newswire: “For distribution in every country across Europe; if this announcement goes ahead, I want it everywhere.”

OK, so The Economist didn’t return your email, and FT Digital Business is looking more likely than the FT proper, but all is well. CBR is up for it too – should be a nice tour.

Then she calls. The CEO isn’t coming after all. But not to worry, the global head of sales and marketing is coming over instead. “He’s the company’s fourth-most-important exec, so we’ll still get some really good interest.” You’re not so sure. You ask if you can tweak his job title. You can’t. His agenda isn’t fixed yet, but you’ve got his PA’s details and she can fill you in.

It’s been four phones calls, three emails and two days. His PA seems pretty shit. UK marketing manager wants to know who you’ve got lined up. It’s the FT Digital Business freelancer, and CBR. Computer Weekly has said yes, though not who yet. Would prefer to do it by phone. Or in Sutton. Should get an online too, but you’ll wait before you call them – they don’t plan ahead too much. Fuck me, PR Newswire is expensive.

Two weeks to go. His PA must be good in bed, because she’s shit with emails and phones. You explain it’s a little tricky to confirm the interviews, as we’re not sure which day it is that he has reserved for media.

“Should be fine though, even if one of the possibles is already booked for whatever day it is, we should be able to get someone else…..Well, no, not really, it’s a bit early for the briefing document. We need to confirm the journalists and without knowing his diary….”

Ah, finally, Anne J Glockensteiner has sent an email. It’s the 12th. A Monday. Not good. Can’t be changed, the customers are all lined up. And you’ve only got him until 2pm as he has a meeting at 4pm (cool, still works well for Computer Weekly). They can’t confirm the content yet.

Well, you reason, fair enough. Stock price sensitive. Shit, what is their stock price? Wow, the IR part of their website is rubbish. Why do documents with lots of financial detail always use that same typeface? Hummm, that’s weird, doesn’t that mean we’re in a quiet period? Fuck it, it’s an acquisition, different rules I guess.

It’s been tricky, but breakfast with FT Digital Business freelancer is set up. Diamond geezer that bloke, thank goodness you’ve got a decent enough relationship with him that he trusts your word it’ll be worth it. Waiting on the rest.

“Well, yeah, I can send you through the background on the FT freelancer but it’s still a bit early to do the rest of the briefing doc yet I’m afraid. Well, no, can’t really do the messaging either. We don’t know the news. His PA is sending the materials.”

Six working days to go. UK marketing manager calls. She’s a bit annoyed.

“There’s no news. And he won’t talk numbers. We’re in a quiet period.”

“Ah, that makes things more difficult.” (Fuck, I can’t believe it).

“And the timings have changed. He’s only got three slots.”

“Oh, OK” (Thank fuck)

“08:30, 11:45 (but only until 12:00) and 17:30.”

“Right. That doesn’t give us much leeway.” (You bitch)

“And it’s the 14th. So you’ve got an extra two days to get it lined up.”

“That’ll probably mean that Computer Weekly can’t make it.” (I hate this job)

“I was thinking, we could probably tweak his job title to head of strategy.”

Well, FT freelancer was remarkedly cool about it. Breakfast briefings! They love ’em. Shame Jason Stamper is at band practice (thought that was normally Thursdays?) but Information Age seems keen.

Jesus Christ, how many more times is she going to call? Humm, there’s a desperation in her voice.

“There’s no customer meetings set up. Bloody Darren, the sales director. Still, it means you’ve now got any time slot available, which should help you secure six journalists. Ideally seven. I want him to be worked so hard, that he’ll be gasping for air by the end of the day. Anything on the 13th would be helpful too.”

You suggest an analyst might help fill the day. You’re hailed a genius. You bite your lip, knowing that’s even less likely than getting a journo. Right, who owes you a favour? Who likes lunch? Who did you give that media training job to eight months ago? Maybe there’s a blogger you could call.

“Oh, and it has to be at our office.”

“Your London office?” (That piece of shit Regus office)

“He’s not going into London. Terrorist threat.”

“Oh. The Slough office then?” (Slough)

Right FT freelancer on 13th. STP Magazine first thing, Computer Weekly phone call, RedMonk, What to buy for business, freelancer for IT Pro, Windows on Finance and CRN. Bloody Information Age said no.

Jesus that was painful. Wasted Sunday doing the briefing doc. Still, should get some nice pieces.

“You’ll never guess what? He’s not coming. I don’t know, makes you laugh doesn’t it? Should be over in September though, so we can do it then. Thanks for sending the briefing doc. It’s got the old logo on it, why’s that? Oh, and did you chase FST on the SOA feature? We really should be in that….”

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cracking. Pick your Jane Austen plot (Persuasion?), fill it with a cast of clients, journalists and agencies and write the book. They say everyone's got a book in them: time to prove PR people have got more than a press release.

Anonymous said...

Thank you - you feel our pain. Might send that round to show my non-PR mates what I do everyday....hmmm maybe I'll save myself the embarrassment

Matt said...

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? I mean, why we bother?

I think there should be an annual 'speak the truth' day (STT), where PR people the world over are allowed to say exactly what they think to clients instead of fawning and wriggling and squirming and ultimately caving in.

"Our CEO is coming over - can you line up the FT and a couple of broadcast interviews?"

"What for that boring little f***wit? Sod off. And you know what? I HATE f***ing Middleware."

The national STT day is written into our contracts so we can't be fired for anything we do or say on that day.

Anonymous said...

That is soo true to life - and hilarious BTW - I think I have sussed which agency you're at (my old agency) - give me a coded clue, come on!

SpiderJ said...

The horror the horror!

I'm having flash-backs already...

where did I put my pills...

nurse... NURSE!!!!

SpiderJ said...

The horror... the horror!

I'm having flash backs already...

Need to find my pills...

Nurse... nurse... NURSE - it's happening again!!!

weaselboy said...

this is utter genius

Anonymous said...

God seeing it in black and white is depressing isn't it.

Still - graduate wannabes read it carefully. If it doesn't appeal, just don't send the application... spot on even down to the eventual line up.

I actually wondered if you were writing about my client for a while.

Might go and slit my wrists now... we do kid ourselves about the strategy bit of our job don't we?

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I and a bunch of other hacks were supposed to meet a company on the 31st Jan - they simply never showed up, and never got in touch to explain what happened. So we probably won't be dealing with them again.

Andrew Smith said...

Absolutely spot on - round of applause - let's face it, we've all been there......

expr said...

Ha! I remember this sort of thing so well and it makes me so glad I don't work in PR any more!

It's something a PR degree and CIPR membership will never equip you to deal with, so I hope some of your more vociferous correspondents are taking note!

Michael Tangeman said...

brilliant!

Anonymous said...

ha ha. Is the next excerpt of this tale the monthly meeting where you explain to the client what their money has been buying versus coverage achieved...

figgis said...

>That is soo true to life - and hilarious BTW - I think I have sussed which agency you're at (my old agency) - give me a coded clue, come on!<

I think it could apply to any agency that has a tech client based out of the US of A...They get awfully excited about their VPs...shame UK journalists don't see it quite the same way. Well I say shame, actually its spot on as they are pretty tedious generally.

Anonymous said...

I think the client has a right to change the goalposts and keep you on your toes every now and then, after all they do pay the bills.

YEAH RIGHT! :-)

Been there many times myself and its something that I don't think will ever get better unfortunately...

What annoys me is that this is the type of stuff that journalists moan about all the time saying that the PR is unprepared, but they don't see this side of whats going on!

Pietro.

James Governor said...

Well if you're going to use us as a byword for a sure thing, or easy date, or lame firm, then the least you can do is link to us. thanks.

Andrew Smith said...

Respect from Charles Arthur too:
http://www.charlesarthur.com/
blog/?p=878

Anonymous said...

Oh God - that is almost to close to the bone to be funny. If only we had the courage to "push back" once in a while, we might not suffer these press tour nightmares so much...

Anonymous said...

Well timed too. How many flacks suffered just this fate at Infosec last week?

I certainly did.

Anonymous said...

God, maybe it's because it's a Monday, but re-reading this makes me want to leave PR! What is good about a career in PR? Pleease remind me...

Anonymous said...

Absolutely spot-on! There is, of course, an alternate ending: he does come, but is such rubbish that your prized relationships with the journalists you got out of bed and took to Slough to meet him are shot to pieces. Either they never talk to you again, or demand compensation in the shape of amounts of booze that can't easily be concealed in expenses.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant!!! If I had a fiver for every time this has happened I'd be minted!

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness I don't do this anymore!

Anonymous said...

Shit, most Americans haven't a blind clue where the UK is anyway, so don't expect them to be able to take a plane and make it all the way over here without someone to wipe their arse for them every 30 seconds!