Monday, 7 February 2011

Broken promises

I've spent my entire working life in PR. So I know the press pretty well. Inspite of the glamour that goes with it, it is a pretty harsh life. Strangely full of disappointments, and having to sell your soul on someone else's behalf. And that generally explains why there are so few nice people in PR.

On Friday, there was an urgent request for people to talk about leaving their kids at home alone. What age is it OK to do that. Legally, there's no set age...any age is fine, providing nothing goes wrong...if it does, then you're in the poo.

I started leaving The Boy at 11 to allow me to get out of an evening. I always used to tell people (and I may have told you before) that I'd always left him playing with matches and sharp knives with the front door open. One night, I came home to the smell of burning.

He'd been doing some history, making a poster for some Elizabethan period homework. To make it authentic, he'd cut it roughly, smeared it with a damp teabag before burning the edges.

I thought it was a good little story, and so did the journalist on The Sunday Times. They would send a photographer Saturday morning. We could keep the photos afterwards she said. The Cat's Mother was excited, The Boy was excited, The Cat was excited, even offering to fore go her Saturday morning sleep in to see us pictured. When he didn't appear, I contacted the paper, to discover, eventually, that no they weren't sending a snapper. But not to worry I was still part of the story. I took it in my stride; The Cat's Mother was saddened..."That's not very nice" she said.

Opening the paper on Sunday morning, the article was there in all its glory. But not a word of mention of The Boy's tale. We'd been edited out. Totally. The Cat's Mother was seriously upset, The Cat was quite unhappy, and even I was saddened. Of course, it was probably just the subs whose job it is to make sure that an article fits the space. But it has altered everyone in the house's perception of the press. The Cat's Mother thinks that if they treat everyone like that, it's no wonder they're such horrible people. She's right, the press does act with thinking about the consequences to the people who come into contact with it. This is a minor, minor case, but imagine how it operates on the bigger stage.

I've seen this all before over the last 25 years, but today it is making me wonder about the business I'm in....I don't like letting down the people who matter to me most.