Another triumph for the PR industry as yet another hapless gopher calls up with a half baked idea

Yesterda Ketchum called up. Chap doesn’t even introduce himself.

He says “tell me, what would it take for you to write about corporate preparations for a flu pandemic?

I say: “Who is flogging the pills?” Ketchum chap fudges the answer.

“What would make you write about it?” he asks, telling me it’s interesting because companies “have to decide which employees get pills and which don’t” (i.e. who is important enough to save and budget for, and who can be reputationally left to perish)

“Well”, I say, “for something like the beginnings of a flu pandemic to be said to be happening, or at least increased risk of it, from a credible source”

“When was the last one?” I ask.

“In the 1960’s” he replies.

“Hmm” I say, “doesn’t sound like the biggest corporate risk I’ve heard about recently, that was 40 years ago”.

“Yes”, he says, “but what about the UN’s Special Representative on Pandemic Influenza as a credible source”.

“Yess…” I say, attempting a Jeremy Paxman-esque eyebrow rise, and probably failing.

“The problem with him”, I say, “Is that his job is to raise awareness of the, er, emerging global risk of pandemic influenza, so really, he’s got a bit of conflict of interest if he wants to come across as objective”

“Right”, says the chap from Ketchum. “So who would be credible on the topic”.

“Well, call me a bluff old traditionalist, but someone without a blatant and obvious conflict of interest who has produced peer reviewed credible recent research on the topic for an important institution, like a University”, I say.

“But surely you knew that anyway?” I inquire, “after all, you work in PR”.

“Yes I did”, he says, “thanks”, and hangs up.

I wish this was an unusual occurrence.

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