The pitfalls when hack becomes flack

Tomorrow's Business

What happens when a hack becomes a flak? Several things, most of them mean-spirited. Newspaper colleagues deride them for selling out. New colleagues who really know what they are doing resent the idea that the newcomer has something to offer that they don’t.

The hack discovers that his contact book is a lot less useful now he no longer works for a major publication. His new employer can’t understand why he can’t just ring up old pals on news-desks and get them to stop writing nasty things.

Some of the hacks turned flaks adjust. Some find it to their liking. Some sink into a pit of despair and hide at long lunches moaning about what a terrible hash they have made of their lives.

Others make understandable errors out of the perceived need to sound authoritative, while a polite audience listens in and tries not to say “I know that you idiot”.

It seems to me that agencies and companies go through periods of thinking they must hire hacks to run accounts or go in-house. Then periods of thinking, well that didn’t work. Let’s hire some actual PR people.

I’m not sure which way the pendulum is presently swinging.

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