November 08, 2007

life in journalism: wily PR machine

First of all the official full form of PR should not be Public Relations. They should change it to Press Relations because interaction with the press (media) is the only thing I encounter them doing. They might argue that they are reaching out to the Public through the Press but that's ingenious because they can reach out to the Pubic in a guaranteed manner through advertisements. The only relation the PR industry tries to cunningly build is with the Press and not with the Public.

Anyways, thats not the thrust of this post. What I am sharing now is the sheer frustration a journalist is faced with to handle when dealing with PR people. They bombard you emails with photo/lword file attachments with embedded logos (these emails are generally more than 500kb-1mb in size) without first checking with us whether we want to receive them all or some only. In addition to email, some send faxes to us, again without checking with us whether we are ok or not with this environmentally-unfriendly use of paper. Just today, I received an email as well a fax on half-yearly result of 3i Infotech by Phiroza Choksi of its PR agency, R&PM Edelman. When I called her up to tell her not to send a fax as the email was enough she started making stale excuses of other journalists wanting it. I had to tell her that some journalists wanting to receive an email+fax DOES NOT mean that ALL journalists want it that way and that she should have done her job of calling each one of us to find out our individual preferences. Thats their job. The sooner so-called professionals working for the large PR firms realise the better it will be for their clients. Their clients do not know the cost of irritation and harassment caused by their PR firms to journalists.

Then there were recent examples of PR companies sending me large-sized email attachments that were not sought for by me nor was I asked before-hand. I have a problem with any attachment that is an image file of more than 100 kb in size. Or it could be a word file but with embedded logo images of the companies that jack up the file size by 10-20 times. So if a word file with just text would be just 30 kb in size by adding the tiniest of logo image file inside it would jack up the file size to 300-600 kb in size. Irritating to say the least because why should we journalists (and in particular magazine journalists like me) care what the logo of the companies look if if we are not particularly seeking it for publishing purpose. Also photo files attached will have some official of the client company cutting a ribbon here or lighting a lamp there over an inauguration ceremony, or just the photo of the official. Tell me, what am I to do with these photos?

The most notorious PR company that does this to me again and again is Perfect Relations whose senior image executive, Heena Uttamchandani, keeps sending me large-sizes attachments of their client, Multi-Commodity Exchange of India. Recently, when it happened it was the third time and I had already called her on the earlier two occasions to tell her to stop this practice. Another PR company with whom I had this problem recently was again R&PM Edelman but thankfully after telling them once they have not yet repeated it. My fingers are crossed!

Why can't PR companies officials just do some hard work and prepare different emailing and fax lists of different journalists with different preferences? It does not involve rocket science. Just some hard, honest work will do. Will the lazy, inefficient and inept among the PR companies wake up, please?

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