Recently, a (very good) freelancer pitched me an idea for LUXX, which involved interviewing someone well-known in a rather beautiful hotel. She’d been given the exclusive, she said, which is always appealing to an editor. She could make it work for our big fashion issue, which showed she’d thought about the product and the position in which it would work (double Brownie points). And, because the interview would take place in a spectacular location, she reasoned, it was something that would also look appealing in photographs.
The problem was: the PR had already talked to me about it. Over a coffee a few months before, she’d told me that the personality was offering one interview, and LUXX could have it.
We’d discussed which issue it could go into, where the shoot might happen, and when I left the meeting, I knew exactly the writer I’d get to do the interview.
And that wasn’t the writer who pitched the story to me.
Not only because I had to have a conversation with the PR reminding her of our coffee (notes of which I have in my notebook with the date of our meeting and EXCLUSIVE AGREED written beside it).
But because had to go back to the freelancer, and explain that, while I like her and respect her work, the pitch was spot on, she hadn’t got the exclusive. I had – and I’d sounded out another writer a month previously, to see if she would be willing to do it. The freelancer was, understandably, cross. I felt guilty. And the PR got it in the neck from us both.
If the PR had been honest, both to me and to the writer, I wouldn’t have had several awkward conversations to deal with and a whole lot of extra work on my plate. In the end, the personality changed his mind about giving an interview – and so we all lost out.
At least, that’s what the PR said. But did I trust that that was the case? Not entirely…