Express chief City correspondent David Hellier is refusing to talk
to PR agencies in a radical stand against the so-called ’Friday night
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
He said he would now only deal with in-house PR operations he trusts and
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
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,
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.’