Would suit a DIY enthusiast
Having seen several amusing rants about the relationship between journalists and PRs on Twitter of late, we thought it might be a nice idea to let some of the journalists speak out about the things that annoy them the most. In the first of our new series of #hackbugbears, journalist Nick Booth wryly ponders the disturbing similarities between PR people and estate agents…
In a way PRs are like estate agents of intellectual property. Some are great but others are…hang on, who’s calling me now…?
Some of my best friends are Estate Agents. There, I’ve said it.
I don’t know what you’re sneering at: they’re not all bad. They’ve got a job to do, and many of them are brilliant at it. Great company, they know the business market and where all the bodies are buried. Then again, there are others who live up to the dreadful stereotype and give the rest a bad name.
But no matter how good they are at their job, they all face the same essential dilemma: they’re trapped between the rock of indifferent buyers and the hard place of deluded sellers, who think their studio flat in Penge is the greatest story in the market. The poor estate agent takes all the flack and tries to keep both sides happy. Sometimes I’m convinced that publishing is the property market in a parallel world. To me, the publication I work on is my home. Naturally, I’ve invested massive emotional capital in it and become blinded to its foibles. I always delude myself that the magazine I work on is essential reading for the world.
Meanwhile the buyer – typically an IT company that wants publicity – values my intellectual property with more scepticism. They just see it as a piece of publicity real estate, which they might settle for if they can’t buy their way into the Financial Times. In between these two polar opposites is the poor old editorial estate agent, the PR. Poor bugger. They have to keep their client, Cables-R-Us, happy and dampen down any expectations of getting on the front page of the FT every time a new cable is launched.
Meanwhile, the PR has to be nice to hacks, who are similarly prone to delusions.
So, I take my hat off to any spin-doctors, you have a difficult job.
Having said that, there are quite a few I’d like to bypass. There are many who put so little thought into what they do that their business model could easily be automated. You know the type. They use the scattergun approach and send every property out to everyone on their books. You ask them a question and they can’t tell you anything about their client, despite the fact they’ll be charging them handsomely. Then they’ll say anything – anything! You know, just to persuade you to attend a viewing.
Then there’s the jargon, which is repeated on every set of details they send out. “Ideally suited to the SME enterprise, ideally placed for the information superhighway, with plug and play architecture, would suit a buyer who wants to add value…”
Having said that, I quite often turn up for the viewings, just out of curiosity. What a waste of time that is though.