The woke risk to PR

Tomorrow's Business

The five Ws are the most basic parts of information gathering in journalism: Who, what, when, where and why.

Why is often the most interesting and important, the others are just bare essentials.

A few conversations lately with flaks while trying to collect or check the first four Ws have bordered on the surreal.

A recent development at some very big companies seems to be to decide that people’s age, gender etc is secret.

“We do not feel comfortable releasing that information”, I have been told.

Since those details are nearly always easily checkable anyway, this seems like a losing strategy. If not somewhat laughable.

From the picture I was looking at, the CEO of the big business looked like a 50-something bloke, as indeed he is (extensive inquiries revealed).

Not confirming that just makes him look defensive about his age, or something.

These weren’t scurrilous pieces I was working on, they were soft features written with full co-operation. Easy wins that the flaks were seemingly trying to turn into own goals.

If you are a completely private person then your age, marital status and the rest of it may well be no-one else’s business.

If you are putting yourself forward to appear in newspapers, you plainly are not a completely private person.

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