Friday, March 28, 2008

Schadenfreude: a guilty pleasure

Is it always terrible to bask in someone else's misfortune?

A few weeks ago I was dispatched to one of Britain's iconic brand names to construct a case study around their biggest change programme. I spent 90 minutes on site with the programme manager, who was fine, and a PR who turned up late and spent the whole session looking at his watch or texting.

At the end, I was instructed to get the piece to them as soon as possible for sign-off as they were terribly, terribly busy. Fair enough, I responded, I'll send you the first draft - it may have a typo or three, but if you can check it for accuracy I'd be really grateful.

I kept my end of the bargain, but my deadline came and went with no response. Three days after the deadline, I sent my standard 'haven't heard anything back so I assume it's ok to publish' note - and got a tirade in return that it was certainly not ok to publish; that the PR had bypassed me and gone straight back to my client and that he'd finally deign to sign it off that evening. Of course he didn't....and I got comments next morning basically telling me how to do my job and that he'd had to rewrite the piece substantially - again, this was sent direct to my client.

My comment to her on him was 'pompous arse'.

The substantial changes amounted to one error in how long the programme manager had been on board (mea culpa, but isn't that the whole point of sending the copy over to be checked?) and a number of changes the PR had made to what was actually said on the day. Fair enough - as my client said, it was still a good read.

However, the attitude of the PR stank, and he seemed to have forgotten that his role was to help journalists, not belittle them.

Anyway, the change launched yesterday.....and went tits up. Tits up to the extent that it has become a media issue, and I have to say I relished the sight of this guy on TV last night with his bottom lip scraping along the floor as he shoved a door shut between his director and the baying media.

If his attitude towards me has been replicated across the media, I'll be interested to see how much support he gets from journalists over the next few days.

.......Now, I'm just waiting for the client call to ask me to replace some of the article's hyperbole with something better reflecting the reality of the situation.

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