Great PR balls-up story in the paper today.The head of public relations for FEMA (thankless job) apparently staged a press conference about the California fires and got agency staff to pose as reporters.
They didn’t give enough time for real reporters to get there so they just had TV cameras and a few juniors asking soft questions. Having spent a lot of time in PR, I love this story because it’s the sort of stunt I might have considered when I worked at AOL UK and didn’t want to answer any tricky questions or get caught in one of the many lies I told. Most journalists have little respect for PR’s, spokespeople or whatever you want to call them and too many PR’s faun over tosspot journalists and give them far too much status. I remember calling a journalist, Peter Hills, on the Times when I first started out and addressing him as Peter. The arrogant git said, ‘do I know you? (no) Then I suggest you call me Mr Hills.’ Pompous ass.
Of course in proclaiming myself as a bit of a crappy PR person, I should state that I am not Maggie Gallant of New York City PR firm, Spotlight Comunications; also Pet Trends expert for Animal Planet and nemesis of Maggie Gallant of Austin, Texas. It’s been a while since I’ve had a stray call, email or package destined for NYC Maggie (I miss them a little bit) but I did have an exciting moment a few weeks ago when I was coming back from England. Erik called me at the airport to say he’d had a call from the other Maggie Gallant wanting to get in touch with me. So I called back, excited to finally be recognised by my foe and to have a fight/chat. It was a little odd to hear a woman say ‘hello, this is Maggie Gallant’s office’, but I still felt superior because we pronounce our last name differently and mine is better. Tempted though I was to introduce myself as the ‘original Maggie Gallant’, I settled for ‘hello this is the other Maggie Gallant’. Apparently I/she was in a meeting and would call me back, but it must have been a long meeting because I’ve not heard from her. I also note that she is now the top entry under our name on Google and I am now relegated to third place. However, this is the way it should be for a top PR guru and I feel pleased to have helped her career in this way.