How leaks don't happen

Tomorrow's Business

A really good thread here from political reporter Gaby Hinsliff on leaks and how they do and don’t happen.

They tend not to occur like film-makers or even other, perhaps jealous, journalists imagine.

Hinsliff writes that just once in 13 years as a lobby hack someone left her a brown paper envelope containing a leaked copy of a draft white paper.

The rest of the time the leak is more of a drip-drip. They require actual work to attain.

Sometimes, in the business world, especially in the midst of a contentious takeover battle, a friendly PR man leaks a story to a pliant journalist. You can usually spot these stories. But not always.

I’ve seen stories landed by colleagues slagged off by rivals as PR drops, when I know for sure they worked really hard to land them.

If the flaks are sensible, at some point they get on board and give you a few details in return for friendly (ish) coverage. That gives it a PR twang, but it didn’t start with the PR.

My favourite bit of the Hinsliff thread is her talking about just knowing someone very well.

Years ago I got a rare (for me) takeover story. The flak was one of my best sources. An excellent gossip. I put my tale to him. The very second he said “no comment”, I knew for sure it was right.

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