Coyly and with a bit of arrogance that is indigenous to some top journalists worldwide, the bureau chief of a Washington news bureau proudly told a room of 50 PR agency CEOs from around the world that she daily deletes all emails she receives without reading one. She monitors FOX news and MSNBC but only quoted Wolf Blitzer. When asked what major story she personally broke and how, she proudly announced that she broke the “surge” story after getting a tip at a bar after work. (We tried to pry the name of her hangout, but like all good journalists she protected that source as well. Good thing, because we were all sitting at attention ready to search its location on our iPhones.)
She admitted that she only takes phone calls from people she knows and who have built credibility with her news rooms. This punctuates my policy that CBR’s newsroom contact lists are hard earned, preciously guarded and never shared. We are entrusted with direct numbers, private email access and yes, home numbers of reporters such as at CNN who know from experience that we only call if we think it’s worth their time.
I’ve been tossing this around in my mind the past day as I have been participating in the 2011 International IPREX Conference with esteemed colleagues from all over the planet. In between these musings I am struck anew at the caliber and camaraderie of these fellow firm leaders and how it has enhanced my citizenship in the world.
I think back on when our American servicemen were detained on the ground in China, prompting me to send an email to my colleague in Beijing and together we commiserated on the unexpected rise in tensions between our leaderships.
On the morning of 9/11 emails between all our agencies flew around the world offering assistance to those impacted by the attacks.
Right now I am sitting next to my colleague from New Orleans remembering our firm-to-firm communications before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. CBR had survived four back-to-back hurricanes and offered sage advice that only true hurricane veterans can offer.
But yesterday’s meeting showcased the importance of IPREX as a demure diplomatic community of key influencers. While the Washington bureau chief gave a detailed minute-by-minute report on the unfolding of the bin Laden story that occurred just days before, I looked around the table and watched how our representatives from the U.K. (ally), Brussels (NATO HQ) and yes, Pakistan, received the story and was fascinated by the discussions that emerged. It was a microcosm of the world, but populated with news-savvy communications experts. Like the bureau chief, I don’t disclose all that observed, but I can tell you that I slept well last night.
Lori C. Booker, APR is founder and CEO of CBR. She served on the International board of directors of IPREX for nearly a decade, and has been a member of the consortium since 1994.