Working in public relations isn't a normal Sharp End job. You sit at a desk, you wear what you like and you work in a nice office. But suppose you're a journalist? Hacks have a love-hate relationship with public relations people ('flacks'), who on the one hand can get them access to important stories, but on the other can pester them half to death with endless phone calls, usually pitching lousy ideas.
What makes the hacks 'n' flacks pas de deux all the more interesting (if you're in it, anyway) is that many of the latter were once the former. Why, we journalists ask ourselves, would you leave an exciting, thrilling, underpaid job in journalism for a corporate, dull, well-remunerated one in public relations?
Anyhow, I arrived bright and early at the central London offices of PR agency Brands2Life, ready to be a junior account exec or JAE; the key to understanding this role is the word 'junior', not the word 'executive'. Brands2Life was founded in 2000 and now employs 50 or so people, representing a mixture of technology firms and household names. I was to be working on two accounts called - for reasons of client confidentiality - brand X and brand Y, under the direction of Andre and Sam.