They say elephants never forget. But pachyderms are positively forgetful when compared when journalists. Slight a reporter and he or she will hunt you down for years.
When I was on the other side of the divide I would put a little note in my address book saying LC (the “L” stood for lying) if anyone had ever misled me. Conversely I will never forget a very senior PR consultant who called me at midnight to make sure I didn’t get the wrong end of the stick after his client omitted to tell me something.
Theresa May and team might reflect on this after excluding local journalists out of a press briefing in Cornwall. Not surprisingly the local hacks went mad. The May machine shrugged and moved on to eat chips awkwardly on the Cornish seafront.
However, Mrs May may find this offhand action comes back to haunt her for the following reasons:
- It has long been said that treat people well on the way up and you will need them on the way down. The Conservatives might think they are sailing to a glorious victory on June 8th but what happens when they are struggling for traction mid-term?
- Everyone starts somewhere. The junior reporter you locked in a room today could be the next political editor of the Telegraph
- In the modern digital world of communications, a silly action reported in a minor outlet in an obscure part of the world has the potential not only to go viral globally but stay on the record for a long time. Never mind elephants, Google never forgets.
So far media relations during the premiership of Mrs May has shown a large amount of the arrogance of the Tony Blair era without a lot of the style. The Rottweiler approach is so 1990s.