A case-in-point

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my frustration at press officers and PR representatives not being able to do their job properly.

Since then, I have completed a lengthy feature piece for Life & Pensions about the looming debt crisis in Eastern Europe. For whatever reason – and I am not necessarily blaming the press offices here (they may have been constrained for other reasons) – only one PR representative that I dealt with actually delivered what I wanted. This was Michael Mattern from Allianz. And guess what? He is a former journalist. Which proves one of the points I was making in my previous article.

For the other sources in my story, I contacted people directly. They didn’t seem to mind. And I felt a little bit smug in the fact that, by being so obstructive (for whatever reason), the press offices were rather shooting themselves in the foot – and losing control of anything I might be going to right about their organisation. This is surely self-defeating. I don’t really want to bypass the press office (I am happy to tolerate a little bit of officialdom if at least I get the job done), but they basically left me with no choice.

I contacted the ING press office. When they failed to get back to me, I bypassed them.

I contacted the Generali press office, with the same results, so I called direct.

I contacted Vienna Insurance Group (VIG). The press officer didn’t seem to understand what I want, and then when she did we had a bit of a sparring match, with her arguing that the debt crisis in East Europe is a figment of the media’s imagination and me saying the exact opposite: that there are clear structural imbalances there and one doesn’t have to look very hard to find them. She didn’t get back to me and I left VIG.

UNIQA, another Austrian insurer, also failed to deliver – so I gave up.

Aviva’s press office, whilst helpful, preferred the questions in written form (something that I detest). They were a day late delivering – because, they say, they couldn’t get hold of the write people – and so I couldn’t use what they wrote. What a waste and a pity.

So – just to repeat what I was saying before. It is so much more worthwhile to help a journalist with what he wants – and in this case it was an interview – than to stand in his way or not to be really bothered.

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