A while ago Big Company X stopped taking my questions on conference calls.
The calls would always come to a close just before there was time for me, apparently.
I asked the flak, whom I’d always got on with, if I was being screened out. “Oh yes,” she said cheerfully. “You pissed off the boss once too often.”
In my naivety, I thought questions from hacks were posed in the order received. It turns out, flaks are able to select from the menu and leave out items (hacks) that might leave a sour taste.
I can see why flaks and CEOs prefer soft questions about third quarter capital ratios (as opposed to, say: “have you got a new girlfriend/boyfriend, and if so how is your wife/husband taking it?”).
But if conference calls just become a round of cheerleading about how wonderful everything is, they lose their value. Then hacks stop doing them.
Then flaks lose control all together.
Hold the fish loosely, or it will flop out of your hands.