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PR flunkeys' hack list is officially rubbish

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Yesterday we ran a story on Miller Freeman's attempt to make money by charging £725 for a league table of journalists, split into categories such as impact, positive and negative coverage.

While these figures were always going to be hopelessly inaccurate, we were not surprised to find that the PRs had failed to do even the most basic research on what they were trying to sell (they'd probably be journalists if they did).

Take for example, the most positive journalist of them all, Luke Peters. Luke managed to score an amazing 100 per cent positive coverage on what he wrote about. Is he a hidden PR mole? Perhaps he takes backhanders and lives in Monaco at the weekend. No, Luke was in fact a work experience lad from college who did a two-week stint on voice-of-the-people mag Computeractive.

Is it not perhaps surprising that a young writer with no IT industry knowledge would be wary of criticising companies he knows little about? Not if you're from Miller Freeman it wouldn't. (Luke, incidentally, has just finished his exams and will be starting as a staff writer with Computeractive at the end of the month).

But hold on. Who is that at number three most positive journalist? Why it's Steve Masters. Presumably the Steve Masters that left his job as online editor of Computing's website at least eight months ago. So why the coverage rating? Well, when Steve cut and pasted information from the paper version to the site, by default, the byline was given to Steve rather than the actual writer. Thus, the material that was not attached to individual journalists, namely the PR-led stories, came up with Steve's name.

As for number two man Jim Haryott, well, who knows? And as for Dave Evans at number four. We can only presume that the index does not account for such complex concepts as sarcasm and irony.

We ran our own subjective but more accurate Reg league table down the pub this lunchtime. And, unpressured, a young lady from Miller Freeman came top in the most useless PR person award. It's a day without surprises today.

Any UK journalists who've got anything to say about the quality of Miller Freemans' PR squad can tell it to The Register.

We'll start the ball rolling.

Sean Fleming, managing editor, writes:

One of the most unpleasant experiences at the hands of a PR bunny I've ever had was, ironically, with someone from Miller Freeman.

Back in 1997 I was features editor of UK channel newspaper PC Dealer (now rebranded as CRN). At the time we'd become involved with a series of roundtables and seminars, with Miller Freeman lining up some of the participants. We got a late cancellation from someone. I was asked to let Miller Freeman know - and quick. Which is what I did. However, the MF person I spoke to far from acknowledging the prompt notification and the offer of help in finding a replacement, instead went purple with rage and accused me of being one of the most unprofessional people she'd ever dealt with - likewise the newspaper. Ranting and raging ensued on both ends of the telephone.

Miller Freeman feels free to name names - so I will follow suit. I have no idea what ever happened to Liz Ivins, as I've made it my business to steer clear of Miller Freeman and its clients ever since.

So, if you're out there and you want to pick a PR outfit that really knows what it's talking about where the concept of press relations is concerned, well... I'll be happy to give you a few pointers. ®

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