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[Editor’s Note: My colleague, Kate Ottavio, apparently doesn’t do these things. . . I do. You can find her post on the topic here.]
Spin — Heck yes, but spin it as ‘framing.’
Flack — It’s why I’m here. The conjugation of the verb form is easy – I flack, you flack, he flacks…the noun form — I am a flack.
Bribe — Well, not really — I have been known to offer things for free (food, samples, “review” copies . . .).
Pester — Seriously? It’s half my job.
Hover — Like I’ve got a jet-pack.
It seems the dear Kate is an optimist about our industry, I take a bit harsher view. We deal with clients who frequently couldn’t find their way out of a paperbag with a map and a pair of scissors. They need us for our writing skills, ability to turn a story around and be the ‘do-ers’ of the things they can’t do. We’re part secretary, parent, hired gun, scapegoat, prostitute and pimp.
There’s only so much prettifying we can do — sometime we have to spin — turn the negative story positive because if you don’t the client will get on the phone with the reporter, and when asked “Did you expect the lawsuit?” answer truthfully “No, it totally knocked our socks off.”
Well damn — it’s obviously time to stroke the client’s ego a bit (at around the 25 second mark) and make them believe, even if only in their own little minds, that the lawsuit hasn’t kicked them where the sun don’t shine.
The answer we’re looking for is “Of course. Our attorneys told us to expect it and we fully believe the truth will come out in a court of law.” Forget that settlement is on its way, that the client will be in Bankruptcy Court if it goes the wrong way and that it’ll never see the inside of a courtroom. Confidence, Truth, and Success are the spin messages of the day.
Flack — I won’t even address this one too deeply. Call from reporter: The client didn’t call – oh, that’s my fault, sorry. Client rescinded their quote — oh, that’s my fault let me give you another one. Client gave the exclusive to someone else behind my back — sorry ’bout that someone else in the office was working on it simultaneously and got a quick case of swine flu. My fault. Excuse me while I go kill the client. It’s always my fault if it’ll keep a good relationship between client and hack.
Bribe — Ok, not really. Free stuff — totally. But that’s just spin — it’s a bribe.
Pester — You betcha. I need the copy of that issue. I need the copy of that issue. I need the copy of that issue. If I don’t pester a ball gets dropped. If a ball gets dropped I could have caught if I was pestering you can bet I’ll pester. That’s the secretary and parent part. You need a headshot, let me get that for you. Even if I have to go the client at least I’ll know who’s got possession of the problem — me.
Hover — Oh hells yes. All you’ve gotta do is say the following 10 words once after the client has started down a path they shouldn’t have gone down. “Client, you wanted this part to be off the record.” One off the record save, one chance to redirect an interview the direction it should be going one lunch on a client’s expense account and hovering for 10 years is worth it.
I may sound resentful, but I get something from all of these activities — I learn more about the client’s business by spinning their news, their staff and the people behind the company from taking the flack, which journalists are responsive and respect our relationship by the level of pestering necessary (in case you haven’t figured it out — if it takes me five emails/calls to find out when a story is going to run you aren’t going to make the top of my list), and the client’s interviewing (lying, erm. . . spin. . . . or rather ‘framing’) skills by hovering.
It’s part of my job and what makes me a better flack.
Let the hate begin
PS–I don’t make 6 figures either…