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How to Handle Fred

Loving all the spin and swirls of Wag-Ed’s memo on “how to handle Fred” being leaked. What’s most amusing is the two assumptions that all PR Pros are doing this. Really they aren’t. And 6,000 words, don’t worry hacks, Execs generally don’t read anything exceeding 500 words.

All of this stems from Wired’s story on transparency. I also chatted to Fred on the Channel 9 piece. Fred’s a terrific journalist and very, very smart. Frank, like Fred, is also a good guy. I’m surprised anyone feels the need to defend this practice or conveniently bundle it under the guise of transparency.

But while I’m on this track, how about every journalist publish all their notes for all of us to read post publication of a story. Tapes become podcasts. Notes loaded into a blog or Wiki. Sources disclosed. Now we’re talking transparency.

Chris makes a great point:

By the way, as far as I can tell, everything in the memo is accurate. I also think the executives were very well served by the document; they did indeed stick to their message and they got pretty much the story they wanted. This was also, as it happens, the story I wanted–or was it just the story I thought I wanted because I was so effectively spun by Microsoft’s PR machine? The mind reels…

And therein is the rub, when great journalists with good ideas meet willing, prepared participants, terrific stories are generated. I don’t mean prepared in a cynical way – I mean in the sense they know what they are meeting about, what the other person wants from the meeting, what the context is, and what the key facts are. From that perspective, the Wag-Ed memo was good. Long, but good…

6 Responses

  1. By Eric Eggertson on March 28th, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    “Execs generally don’t read anything exceeding 500 words.”

    How true. I had a boss who insisted there wasn’t anything worth knowing about that could possibly take more than one typewritten page to explain.

    • By Rubiel on December 24th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      We have a very simple pocliy for health care, we give you what you need, not what you can buy. It’s very frustrating to hear such bull shit, in France we saw a video of a black woman dying on CCTV in a New York hospital because no one took care of her, please, don’t take this like an attack, I just want you to realize that people in your country deny health care to people so that they can build a new swimming pool in one of their mansions.

  2. By frank shaw on March 28th, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    “conveniently bundle it under the guise of transparency?”

    According to Chris, this transparency was “thrust upon me.” The bundle seems to fit…

  3. By Fred Vogelstein on March 28th, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Andy – interesting stuff about posting notes. I’m actually not against it, in theory at least. It couldn’t apply to off the record comments or interviews (and yes, I do believe those remain an important part of what I do) But to the extent that people I talk to on the record WANT their raw verbiage out there – my shorthand and all included – I’m all for it. If you’re talking about actual transcripts, delivered real time, then you’re talking about an entirely different and hugely time consuming endeavor. If my time is better spent doing that than writing the actual story that’s fine. Not yet sure it is.

    • By Ralph on December 23rd, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      FYI most of the time you don’t have to go to the post office. You just stick the mail ousidte your house and it gets magically whisked off to its destination. It arrives the same way via a postal clerk MAKING A HOUSE CALL. Pretty good service if you ask me. But, like you, many Americans don’t even think about how convenient that is and would rather belly-ache about big gov. All hail FOX News and the corporate takeover of America! NOT!

  4. By Nintendo Wii on April 5th, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Interesting thoery.

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