When business news goes mainstream, the PR industry is faced with a problem. It has to pivot fast, to acknowledge that the usual terms of engagement may not apply.
Because everyday business stories are often complicated there’s a sort of routine in the swapping of information and the checking of facts.
The hack asks: can you explain what that sentence means? Remind me of what happened a year ago. It would be fair of me to say that your client made a total hash of this, no?
The good flak replies: Plainly, it is not good. But in mitigation….
At the moment that same story might go to the front of the paper and be written by a home news hack. Someone who could care less about keeping future relations sweet because he expects never to speak to the flak ever again.
The minor details a City hack might decide it only fair to include are out of the window.
And he might give the flak every chance to say something daft, to deny what the hack knows to be true.
He may not immediately tell you that he knows it to be true because he’s Got It On Video, but since he has got it on video, mitigating factors are almost pointless. You’re bang to rights.
A few years ago, I enjoyed a colleague leading a flak on the grandest of merry dances. The flak prevaricated, fibbed, and seemed furious that his word was being doubted.
“This just never happened. You really should be more sceptical of what your sources tell you”, the hack was told.
“I Was In The Room”, he said to a flak still failing to grasp how this one was going to play out…