DIARY: Three words do not a feature make, unless your name’s Tim Sutton

Who says PR people don’t understand what journalists have to go through?

Who says PR people don’t understand what journalists have to go through?

Tim Sutton, CEO of Charles Barker, tells a tale of his early training in

PR which included writing features for clients’ in-house magazines. His

first assignment sounded promising - to interview a senior executive of

a large Japanese electronics company.

Unfortunately it soon transpired that the man’s English was none too

hot. ‘So how is business going?’ enquired Sutton as an opening gambit.

‘Ah, business good,’ replied the client after reflection.

Sutton followed up by asking what new developments were in the

pipeline.‘Ah, semi-conductor,’ came the full reply, which Sutton duly

noted, while breaking out in an increasingly cold sweat at wondering how

he was going to spin 1,500 words out of this.

‘So..what...about...the... market generally?’ said Sutton. At this, his

interviewee brightened and produced from a drawer a comprehensive,

illustrated rundown of the whole market...in English. Hugely relieved,

Sutton went through the tome line by line with him, noting it all down.

As he was putting away his pen, he was stunned when the man abruptly

announced that Sutton should ‘not use anything from market

report...strictly confidential.’

Sutton stared at the three on-the-record words in his notebook in

despair, but on his way out fortunately spied a product brochure, from

which he was able to weave a plausible article and save his bacon.

‘But,’ says Sutton, ‘the really funny thing is that he phoned me when

the feature came out to tell me how good he thought it was.’

Edited by Rebecca Dowman

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