Wednesday, 21 September 2011

If customers deal with this, it's no wonder they're not advertising.

If you've ever had to bridge the gap between editorial and advertising departments, you will share my pain.
Now, I'm not one to abide by the usual stereotypes that all advertising staff are ameoba that fit into a cheap suit.
I've always attempted to give them more credit that that, to assume they have some intelligence, rather than speak to them like small children and not give them anything to do that involves using more than one brain cell.
I know many who do and I always thought it a touch wrong.
However, in recent months, there seems to have been a noticable decline in the basic skills possessed by people who sell pictures in papers and on websites.
I don't know whether it's due to financial constraints or the trimming of departments, but I have to admit, they really don't seem a very bright bunch.
The other day, an ad rep called up our editorial department and asked our internet monkey to post a story on our website.

When we received the email containing the 'story' they wanted us to post, under our masthead, in the 'News' section of the site, us hacks were summoned over to have a read.
I shit you not, the copy was unbelievable.
It was, to all intents and purposes, an ad feature at best. At worst, it was a barely-legible blurb for an ad in a village newsletter.
Sentences included the likes of: "Popshit hairdressing offers a fantabulous experience for anyone who has an IQ lower than a puddle."
And: "If you want the latest jaw-dropping styles then Popshit will happily grin inanely at you in one of the greatest salons in the world."
You know what I mean.
Anyway, we merely laughed and the web guru proceeded to email the poor, misguided advertising rep back and explain that this copy was going nowhere near our website - let alone the news section - and that it was barely fit to be seen by human eyes.
Perhaps arrogantly, we presumed the copy would be changed and something would be sent that we may be able to squeeze - at a push - on the advertorial section online.
But no, instead followed one of the funniest and bemusing telephone conversations I have ever overheard and had recounted to me later, in the pub.
A senior, very senior, advertising manager called our web desk and proceeded to launch into a tirade at the web editor about how this copy should go online and how, basically, editorial was the primary reason our publisher looks like going bankrupt within two days, or some such tripe.
The responses which came from the web editor were, as you would expect, perfectly rational, gradually becoming more and more frustrated.
"But the 'news' section is editorial, not advertising space."
"I wouldn't put this in the 'news' channel, but we could work on it and post it in the 'advertorial' section."
Progressing to...
"I'm sorry, but it's not news."
And ending in...
"Look, I'm telling you, you can cc in who you like on the emails, but this load of shit is going now nowhere near my fucking 'news' channel."
However, if that wasn't bad enough, I heard the killer line come from the web editor, who asked how much the client was paying for this 'news' story to appear online.
The response, I later learned in the pub, was astounding.
The senior, very senior, advertising manager replied that the client wasn't paying for any online content, but had taken an ad in the paper.
Now, I may be wrong here, but aren't we in an era when online advertising is supposed to be playing an ever-growing role in our revenue stream?
We are forever hearing from such senior, very senior advertising staff and MDs that the "digital platform" or whatever they are calling the website nowadays, is the future and how we are attempting to "grow these revenues" and "pursue this market", blah blah blah.
So why the fuck is a senior, very senior, advertising manager berating a journalist for refusing to give away a prime piece of editorial space online to a client who is paying precisely fuck all for the priviledge?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a clear example of why we are all wading through shit to produce newspapers and websites which contain anything more than recycled press releases, why we have two people to every 300,000 readers, and why we're fucked as soon as one of them dares go on holiday or be ill.
Because fucking morons are selling us down the river for a £50 ad, attempting to cling on to whatever shite money they need to earn their extra £50 that quarter, while killing the very product they need to survive in order to earn their money.
And I repeat, for the final time, that this was a senior, very senior, member of the advertising team.
What a fucking joke.
Anyway, the story didn't go online and I'm willing to bet the client didn't give a fuck. Why? Because they hadn't paid a penny for it.
NOTE: I later learned that the same senior advertising manager had been treated to a trip to the smoke for an expensive lunch for her recent efforts.
I puked in my bowl of last night's leftovers.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, @haplesshack, and you can email me with your anger at


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Hello again old friends, it's been a while, what with silly season kicking in, riots in London, no money in any of our bank accounts.

Still, the bitter winter is coming and that always enlivens a newsroom.

Anyway, I thought I'd return with a new tone of blog - a bitter and cynical rant. There, I knew that would surprise you.

The Guardian. Yes, I've mentioned it.

Set to scoop all awards this year for the paper's phone-hacking coverage, the whole sorry business still raises some questions for me.

In recent days, we've had story after story - certainly online, which seems to be their tactic these days - regarding the Met's attempts to garner sources from the paper.

Now, while I naturally don't agree with any journalist being forced to reveal their sources, the saga does raise some questions for me.

The Guardian is, quite rightly, outraged by this move and is standing firm against the attempts, legal or otherwise.

But something doesn't sit right with me.

After the shocking phone-hacking scandal and the investigations, inquiries and debate that will continue as it all goes on, doesn't the world's most worthy paper think that just this sort of thing could be the outcome?

Is the Guardian really naive enough to think that there will be no legislation after these inquiries and the resultant reports?

Could something enabling public bodies to demand sources really be that far from thinking in the corridors of power?

The Guardian would argue, of course, that what they have done is in the public interest, something which should be protected from any possible legislation.

But I'm not so sure that this will be as clear cut as they - or the likes of the Hacked Off campaign - think.

I hope I'm wrong, of course, but in urging full disclosure, and by going after those at the NoTW with such vigour an being so keen to condemn their tactics, the Guardian and those hanging on their shirt tails need to be careful what they wish for.

Don't forget, you can follow me on Twitter - @haplesshack - or email at

I'm determined to have another moan today so look out for that if you're inclined to be as miserable as I am.