The case of the bitchy reporter and the missing press release

Maybe it’s old age. But I find myself increasingly impatient when I go to events that are poorly coordinated.

I recently hurt the feelings of the communications people for a company I shall not name lest they make me do a #defahmi.

See, said people decided to have a launch. For some reason, they decided also to mention they were giving away goodies at a lucky draw.

Oh God, I thought. I hate it when they announce/make a big deal about lucky draws. Because that’s when people like the lucky draw vultures show up.

I call them the lucky draw vultures because these people will go to any press event in the hope of snagging goodie bags or lucky draw prizes. They’re the hanger-ons, who just want a free meal or freebies. So instead of media company A sending one photographer and one reporter, they send one reporter, one photographer, and three freeloaders.

I arrive on time (I thought) at 11. In front of me in the media registration line, is some silly twit, who spends nearly 10 minutes asking lots of questions to the person in charge. HELLO, WAIT FOR THE PRESS CONFERENCE CAN?

Silly twit goes away. Then as I sign in, I’m told, sorry no release, haha, we only prepared 50 haha, you’re the 62nd person to arrive haha.

“We’ll send it to you later”. Then comms person goes directly to the next person in line, leaving me flummoxed. OK whatever. I go into the press conference room and it’s full to the brim with only the front seats unvacated.

Yeah, I was feeling like hell. No press release. Tired. Irritated. Slept at 5am as I was keeping up with the WWDC coverage. I just wanted the damn press release but had to stand around hoping I’d get something out of the event.

Blahtherblahterblahter WE’RE THE BEST blahtherblahterblahter REALLY, WE’RE THE BEST

This is why most product launches are a waste of time. Look, give me hard facts instead of self-praising yourself can? The irony of it was all the information that I really needed were all on promotional product flyers. I should have just taken one and gone into work.

But decided to hang out and talk shop with the other journos, get a sound bite or two from one of the spokespersons. Yeah, it’s much more interesting talking to spokespeople I find, when they’re not having to read prepared speeches or “approved marketing copy”.

The very next day, I get a call from communications person about my complaints. Well, that’s after he sends me this huffy Tweet:

(Twitter handle removed to prevent #defahmi)
@ernamh we appreciate your comment. would much appreciate if you could come direct to us rather than tweet and gossip around.

What…the…

So I reply: “It’s not gossip but fact. You brought only 50 press releases to an event which would probably attract at least 100 people.”

I get a semi-apologetic phone call later, the gist of which was mostly excuses:

1. They’re a small company, understaffed, not enough people, only two people to man the booth. OK, why were there loads of people in (company name) t-shirts standing around looking bored to death?

2. I got the press release, right? Yeah, 3 hours after the damn thing was over.

3. Spokesperson tried to talk to me after event, saying to me “Jemput makan.” Err, yeah, dude, I heard you. So that’s what I did. Went to the buffet line and ate. Then said spokesperson got all huffy, saying I didn’t even look at him, didn’t strike up a conversation with him. Huh. You asked me to go eat, so I went to eat. How was I to know you were trying to initiate a conversation? Then you say I was looking at you as if you disgusted me.

What. The. F…

Crossed signals, much?

Also:

1. You had enough money to book KL Hilton for venue. On the same floor as the Business Centre. You could have, oh, walked a few metres to said centre and printed/photocopied a few releases, right? No?

2. If (company name)’s staff overheard me bitching, they could have come over and said something right? No. Instead they bitched to communications person about the whiny reporter who bitched about not getting a release.

Ok. First up. I am a bitch. But I am not a demanding one. I have a reputation for showing up on time to events, except if I’m held back by work/another event. When I get to a launch, I just want the release so at least I have a gist of the proceedings and make it easier to see what’s left out so I can, oh, ask at the Q&A?

Because I get pissy when I hear reporters ask stuff that is, oh, in the damn release?

Yes, I know. The people who don’t know me/haven’t dealt with me can find me intimidating. And when I’m annoyed/angry, you can see my hackles rise from 20 metres away. But I don’t make scenes. I don’t yell. You know I’m really mad when I use my very quiet, very sinister sounding voice, dripping with lots and lots of sarcasm.

Like when I asked another company’s rep: “So, you’re telling me, that you changed the time by an hour and I’m supposed to just wait around for an hour until the event actually starts?” Instead of yelling at the rep, I took the release, left…then went nuclear on Twitter. Heh.

I am sorry if I am not nice. I’m not a nice person. No. I am impatient. I am blunt. I have no toleration for bullshit. But on the other side of the coin: I don’t give you bullshit either. I don’t pretend to like you when I don’t. I won’t suck up to you because I don’t expect you to suck up to me. You give me a story, I will write the story and most times, I write fairly decent. If I say something has merit in print, I mean it. If I praise you in an article, I believe you deserve that praise and not because I want your advertising moolahs. I don’t write what I don’t believe…which is probably why I’m not making the real money as a copywriter. Ha bloody ha.

I give a shit about my stories. I give a shit about my job and I take it damn seriously. So please, help me help you by making it easy to find that story. You give me a story, I write it, we’re good.

But if it takes you 3-4 hours to get me a release – which I like having to be absolutely sure I’m accurate – then pardon me if I get mad. I thought PR’s job is to make it easier for a journalist to get his/her story and if you get mad when I accuse you of not, oh, doing your job…well, let’s agree to disagree.

In the online world, we do not have the luxury to wait on a PR company for hours. There’s always a new story waiting around the corner so why the heck should I be waiting on yours?

5 Comments

  1. Justin Ong
    ·

    Hahaha, makes me so glad I no longer have to:

    a) go to Mickey Mouse events/launches/schmoozefests, and

    b) deal with the brain-dead, don’t-give-a-crap, I’m-too-sexy, ooh-shiny morons who are paid to organise them.

    In case it isn’t obvious, I *hate* PR douchebags. With a vengeance. Like “If I were God, I’d smite Nazis and PR douchebags” hate.

    Reply

  2. ·

    I read your TMI column, I read your FB notes, and I read your nlog postings.

    Of all the three, I find myself liking your writings the most when it is a rant about something, Erna.

    Oh ya, July is still a long way to go but I hope you will enjoy your trip to your hometwon Erna.

    -KC-

    P.S – If I get RM10 for everytime you change your blog theme, I’d be having at least RM1,000 in my ASB by now…;-p

    Reply
  3. Emily
    ·

    Love your blog articles…
    I am new to your blog… But i find it very real and loving your writing even more.

    Felt like you are talking to us. Rather than just writing. šŸ™‚

    Reply
  4. seriati
    ·

    Erna,
    Do an old a favour, will you, love? Please, use slightly bigger fond.

    Reply
  5. Erna Mahyuni
    ·

    Justin: Lucky sod. And hey, I used to do PR! Well, keyword here is ‘used’.
    Ahmad: I kenot help my change-theme-itis. And thanks!
    Emily: I am touched. Thanks for support!
    Seriati: Haha, I changed the font to make it more readable as well as the colour. The size, well, you can zoom in on the page, and adjust it in your browser. Firefox – View – Zoom. šŸ™‚

    Reply

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