In the old days, we just did the news. PR people were there, of course, but I think we relied on them much less, perhaps because we all had more time.
PR folk preferred it that way too. “I don’t exist”, senior flaks would say when giving briefings, something we were happy to go along with.
I think that’s changed quite a lot. Nowadays, hacks are almost as likely to write about the process behind the news as the news itself, a sign of the PR sector’s growing power and that fact that hacks are expected to produce more copy in less time.
Some city commentary is almost entirely about the news process, even if it is kidding itself otherwise.
This extra power puts PRs more obviously in the firing line. And so to Lloyds Banking Group, which has run into some flak for how it handled the news that it will cut 6000 old jobs, but add 8000 new digital ones.
There’s a good piece here by Katherine Griffiths at The Times about, not so much the jobs shake-up, as how it was delivered. Lloyds wasn’t transparent, she feels, and she has a point.
This probably wasn’t the fault of the PR people – the team at Lloyds is excellent, I’d say.
I think the lesson, especially when companies are making difficult announcements, is that they are ever more likely to find us writing about not just what they did, but how they did it.