“Sucking C*ck for Pennies”

You’ve probably seen it on telly – the world of PR is all about parties, getting drunk and whoring yourself. Patsy waltzes into a room says, ‘darling, darling’ at the top of her voice to a recipient of her alcoholic breath and slurs out an inane conversation from her mouthpiece. Neither individual cares what is said but they carry on wasting air that would be used more productively encouraging a forest fire somewhere in America. Some would call it legalised prostitution. I call it ‘networking’.

For all those who have ever worked with the general public, there is one undeniable universal truth – people are scumbags. Not just regular scumbags, mind, but invariably rude, arrogant and obnoxious morons with a deep disdain for life. The more mundane their job and the more unintelligent they are, the more likely they are to be horrible.

There are two sets of people that PROs (that’s PR Officers) have to hobnob with – clients and journalists. Clients are hard work, often you have very little in common and it can often be awkward, you (or at least I) generally avoid them for fear of saying anything wrong, but in the end they pay your wages and you appreciate and respect them even if you don’t always like them. Journalists, on the other hand, do not pay our wages but make you feel like a moron whilst squeezing your balls. At least that’s the impression I used to get from the vast majority of them. Journalists are regularly invited to PR parties where they get the royal treatment whilst the client and PR makes inroads so that they might write positively about the company later on.

My first proper encounter with journalists was at a football event probably a year ago (for all those following my shenanigans, it was the same event where we were saved by a prostitute when an illegal taxi man tried to steal our telly). Our client put on free booze in an expensive venue bang in the centre of Leicester Square and allowed journalists to view a crucial Euro 2008 qualifying match. I am generally quite an agreeable person. I can get on with people if I want to, though recently I’ve been rather moody and just a bit ago I had a conversation with a new member of staff where I just stared into space. I sat down next to a throng of lads about my age who’d just started working for a national newspaper. I was keen to speak to the junior journalists, build up contacts but, more importantly, try make new friends in London.

I was naïve. The group of posh lads – apparently the bane of my existence in London – began to really make me feel tiny. Whether they saw someone with such a coarse accent, or whether it was because I was in PR, they were laughing amongst themselves with that arrogant bravado way that only posh boys seem to be able to do. I ended up walking off in the middle of an extremely patronising conversation. Perhaps I should have stayed, after all if you have good contacts at a national newspaper your life is generally easier. But chest out, walking tall, I called them something extremely juvenile (under my breath – I might meet them again) and walked off, preferring to speak to a client.

However, it didn’t take me long to realise that not all journalists are like that. It’s just a job. I’d be annoyed if someone kept calling me to ask if they’d seen my rubbish press release about the world being round and rain being wet. I play football with a bunch of journalists and consider most of them friends and one of them, certainly, is one of my best mates down here. It’s a fantastic opportunity to network with some of the more prominent members of the IT trade press but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with it. It’s pretty silly really: if I my car had broken down I would not have any hesitations asking my mechanic mate Paul to have a look; if I need some renovations on my house I would ask my plasterer mate Dave how much it’d cost. But it’s a strange relationship between PROs and journalists, it’s like in the cop movies (and consequently EXACTLY like real life) where the policeman uses the criminal to grass on/infiltrate gangs whilst the baddie uses the copper to let him off the hook. It’s an uneasy win-win situation though without the gunfights and time travel and with more phone calls and slightly less Americanised English.

Now, there are a lot of my friends who say that I’m a ‘people person’ and that I find it easy to get on with others. I’m not a people person and I don’t find it easy when I do get on with people. It’s bloody hard. I hate people and I’d rather skin my face and shower in vinegar than try to listen to their inane chat. Being a bloke I’ve never been good at small talk either. Men hate talking to each other. When we are sat in the pub and you see a table of us actually have a listen to the conversation – it’s rubbish and all bravado, men challenging each other to see who can be the funniest or most knowledgeable or best at some worthless skill like videogames. Men should just get their nobs out as soon as they get in the pub, saving them all both time and money.

Being in the job that I do, I have started to learn the art of small talk – you have to. But what I have discovered is there are little ways to help you. Here’s the secret: there are only five days of the week that you have to pretend to like people. On weekends you can be as miserable as you want. If it’s at the beginning of the week (Monday and Tuesday) you ask how one’s weekend was, and if it’s later on in the week (Thursday or Friday) then ask what they will be doing on the weekend. Wednesdays I still haven’t quite figured out yet, but in my mind it is perfectly reasonable just to ignore everyone.

I make out that I have the wide-eyed innocence that is untainted by London’s harsh reality. I’m not, and I’m certainly not proud of what I am about to say…

I lost nearly a whole night’s sleep because I had whored myself out to a fellow blogger. I’ve always tried not to have proper professional relationships. The people I talk to, I’d like to think I talk to because I want to, not because I have to. Anyway, I met a gentleman who writes a technology PR blog which I actually follow – but I didn’t initially realise it was him I was talking to. It was suppose to be an informal drinks session with a journalist who would probably forget my name as soon as his free beer was finished. But after a very nice (but very geeky) conversation about social media, I realised who it was. It turned out that he also wrote for a publication which would be useful for a client I had. I did consciously make the decision and had evaluated how guilty I would feel – I knew it was bad but gave him my business card anyway, much to my regret.

I’ve changed. I admit it: I am a slut.

But like I said, all people are scumbags – me included…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2007/09/11/tim_hoang_blog_07_feature.shtml

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One response to ““Sucking C*ck for Pennies”

  1. Pingback: renaissance chambara | Ged Carroll - Oprah Time: must-read blog

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