Express City chief in stand against ’drop’

Express chief City correspondent David Hellier is refusing to talk to PR agencies in a radical stand against the so-called ’Friday night drop’.

Express chief City correspondent David Hellier is refusing to talk

to PR agencies in a radical stand against the so-called ’Friday night

drop’.



He used a debate on the ’drop’ held at the London School of Economics,

attended by City PROs and journalists, to canvass others to join his

campaign.



He said he would now only deal with in-house PR operations he trusts and

personal friends.



Hellier revealed at the debate the seriousness of the ’drop’ by

divulging a conversation he had had with a ’very eminent’ investment

banker who admitted the situation had reached such a stage that when a

takeover bid takes place, he is obliged to leave some information for

the weekend press.



The banker had added to Hellier that a PR company which played by the

rules would inevitably lose clients.



Lack of resources to carry out investigations made the Express and other

paper’s susceptible to manipulation by drop masters, Hellier added.



He said: ’What we have at the moment is big business sections and

proprietors who constantly reduce the number of journalists on the

papers to make bigger profits. We then have 20 pages to fill with, in

our case, two full-time people to fill them. So I think we are more

easily manipulated.’



He added that by refusing to speak to PR companies, he frequently gains

access to the top figures at a company, which gives him an advantage

agencies cannot. ’PR agencies are often not as well-briefed as they

should be,’ he said.



Hellier’s stand follows former Sunday Telegraph deputy City editor

Patrick Weever’s claims that the broadsheet’s City pages were ’an

offshoot of the PR industry’. Weever accused PR consultancies of acting

as the ’highly influential gatekeepers to corporate Britain.’ (PR Week,

24 Sept).



He added: ’The systematic corruption of the drop is known, but not

condoned, at the highest level in the City by the City’s elder statesman

and by corporate financiers.’



Leader, p10.



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