To the Coach and Horses in Poland Street for silicon scandal sheet The Inquirer's fourth birthday bash. Mad Mike Magee runs things in his inimitable style, holding court downstairs while leaving the upstairs room packed solid with hacks, PRs, thirsty chip company execs and various people of indeterminate status. Previous years have seen the odd tussle break out and occasional handbags, but the mood this time is light-hearted. Buoyed up by a sense that life in online technology reporting is getting better — ad revenues are up, jobs are reappearing and new projects are getting off the ground — everyone settles in for a long gossip. The bonhomie is so extensive that once the tab runs out at the bar, journalists are spotted dipping into their own pockets to buy drinks for PRs — and not just because they want to get them into bed. Truly, a bright new world of decency and hope is dawning.
There are certain niceties to attend to. Some of the younger PRs, better judgement overwhelmed by the target-rich environment, are too eager to pitch and won't take no for an answer. The worst offenders are fed beer until they start to wobble, then pressed for their true opinions on clients. This provides a generous harvest of blackmail material with which to put our future relationship on a productive footing: you wouldn't be surprised at some of the names that come up as being particularly bastardly, but you might raise an eyebrow at the unhappiness this engenders in the hearts of their frontline troops. Memo to companies: put your PRs in impossible positions too often, and the cracks will show. On a lighter note, some companies are praised for being particularly good to their flacks — Intel is mentioned more than once, not just by people connected with the outfit, as managing that trick.
One subject that does come up is the demise of Spin Bunny, the anonymous PR blog which has been so good at relaying scurrilous tales. A brief note on the site says that an unnamed UK PR company slapped a bad case of judicial myxomatosis on the Bun last week and demanded sources for a particularly annoying story. Since no out of court resolution was possible, the blog has gone "to protect the anonymity of its contributors and its sources".
Odd stuff, and as Peter Kirwan points out on science hack Charles Arthur's blog, it doesn't quite make sense — what the Bun has done doesn't help protect any such thing. And the real identities of both blogger and aggrieved PR company will come out soon enough, if not in any public arena overseen by the mighty machinery of British justice then somewhere in the colonies. Meanwhile, if you plan to communicate salacious information to a mischievous publisher, take care to cover your tracks well — preferably by sending your messages through some medium abroad. And bloggers — you don't have to host your goodies on this side of world. They have rabbits in Australia, I believe.