The 10 things I have always wanted to say to PR folks

1. Why are you here? "Here" can mean any or all of following:

(a) In this room, during my interview with your client, interrupting at critical junctures with unimportant comments.

(b) In this room, during my interview with your client, completely silent while scrolling through Facebook on your phone and 'liking' food photos. (Yes, I can see from over here).

(c) On the phone, listening in on an interview and turning a simple one-on-one conversation into a static-filled, poor-voice quality multiple-party conference call. Do you know that there has not been a single conference call in the history of mankind that has been intelligible to any of its participants?

(d) Existentially. On this planet. Why?

2. Why do you ask reporters if a story is out in the paper today? Do you get a copy of the paper that's different from the one we put out? Is yours the Hogwarts edition with enchanted disappearing columns and the invisible Page Nine and Three Quarters?

3. As a follow-up to point #2, why do you ask us for a copy of the published story to show your client? Do you not, in the course of business, subscribe to the newspaper which - pardon the attempt at poetry - is the Canvas upon which your Life's Work is wrought? Or do you wander the streets of Shenton Way waiting for a particularly gusty day, so that when a stray page from the paper flutters your way, you can make grabbing motions at it in the hope that it's the page on which the story appears?

4. It is impossible to tell you the "angle" of the story before we've met your CEO for the interview. At that stage, our story is so angle-less that if it were a shape, it would be a circle. It is so lacking in angles, that if the story were a famous person, it'd be Kim Kardashian's bottom, which is a celebrity in its own luscious right. Ok? Ok.

5. Getting a list of questions for your client beforehand does not pre-empt tough questions in the actual interview. It just makes us annoyed, because now we have to think up decoy questions on top of the actual questions. "Yes! Tell us about your company's pillars of excellence! What about your core values?! Don't leave out your mission statement. What? You want to deliver value? Get. Out."

6. If your client says nothing, then "nothing" will appear in the paper the next day.

7. Why do you say "sorry about the confusion" after making a mistake? It's as though this "confusion" is some supernatural force beyond the bounds of your influence instead of the result of your playing with your hair during the interview.

How about, the next time we make a mistake about your client, we publish a correction that reads: "In our previous story, we said profit was down when it was up, we got the name of the company wrong and used a photo of a sleeping puppy just because. Sorry about the confusion."

8. How come your idea of an "exclusive" interview is one that you have pitched to five different newspapers and three television channels? Are you using the F&B industry's definition of "exclusive"? Like, is your client a VIP room at a nightclub? Do only supermodels and heirs to dubiously acquired wealth get to interview your CEO? Seriously.

9. No, we will not arrive 15 minutes before an interview is supposed to start. What do you plan to accomplish in that quarter of an hour? Is that the time in which I'm supposed to brush my hair and straighten my skirt? No, I always look like I've been dragged backwards through a hedge. There's no fixing that.

10. Why do you flag your press releases as "important", making little red exclamation marks appear next to your emails in the Lotus Notes system - the ones that look like mini heart attacks? Do you honestly believe that your event, which I see you have billed as the "Oscars of back-end network enterprise systems", calls for immediate scrutiny? Do you know why I haven't replied? Because I am afraid of what I might say.

Again, why are you here?

PS: We know you have 10 questions to ask reporters too. Our answer to all of them: We decline to comment, and please don't say we declined to comment.

This article was first published on May 8, 2015.
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