OPINION: The Big Question: What is the most useful piece of gossip you have ever overheard? - Recent research by PR consultancy Marketeer discovered that 83 per cent of those questioned would automatically repeat an overheard piece of information or gossi



Band and Brown

’The best piece of gossip I ever overheard was when I was working for a

newspaper in the late-1980s. I was in one of those trendy Soho bars

springing up at the time and overheard that a famous soap star was

having an affair. While, to protect the innocent I can’t reveal the

exact names and dates, I was able to stand the story up. It outed the

star, and got me my first ever front-page by-line. In general, as a

20-a-day smoker, I find the best place to overhear something you

shouldn’t is in the smoking room. Anyone in PR and news relies on

gossip. It is a good means of exchange with journalists ... an ’I’ll

show you mine if you show me yours’ kind of thing.’



’You trivialise the value of overheard commercial intelligence. Not long

ago I heard two employees of a PRCA member discussing some very

sensitive facts. Perhaps it was because we were all three naked, in the

showers at the gym, that they felt it was safe to let it all hang out.

Their MD was not amused. Human intelligence has always been the best

form of immediate information; people are naturally boastful and

careless. Sadly I’ve never been privy to a breaking dot.com story, but

years ago I did overhear, in the cypher room at the British Embassy in

the Hague, that a cracking girl worked across the street. She’s now my



Borkowski PR

’The stuff which is useful tends to be about what happens generally in

the media business - who is moving where and that type of thing. I was

once able to congratulate a journalist friend on his new job, before he

actually knew he’d got it. Also, there are one or two people in the

media who seem to find the job is beyond their capabilities. Sometimes

your knowledge can be helpful in separating gossip fact from gossip


Of course gossip is useful, but it can be dangerous, and we can be too

grand about it. I think they say it’s harder for a gossip to get into

heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, but

frankly, I trade in it every day.’



’One of the most useful and accurate sources of information in

Australian politics are ministerial drivers. They see and hear

everything going on in a minister’s or party leader’s life and tend to

be very politically astute. Drivers spend most of their lives - day,

night, weekends - with their minister and his or her advisers. But

unlike everyone else in the ministers’ inner circle, drivers are not

politically aligned. They are public servants who have been supplied to

the minister or party leader from a central pool. On top of this, the

drivers share a common room in parliament house, regardless of which

side of the political divide they are working on and they tend to be

very good mates. A driver will never kiss and tell, but a raised eyebrow

or a curl of the lip can sometimes steer you in the right direction.’

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