I was slightly shocked today to read a journalist having a go at me for being ‘prickly’. That certainly isn’t my way. Here’s what Jim Armitage wrote in The Independent…
Too grand to talk to journalists?
I interviewed MoneySupermarket boss Peter Plumb for a big profile article at his swanky corner office near Soho on Wednesday evening.
On my way in, I bumped into Martin Lewis, the financial journalist who sold Mr Plumb’s company his website, MoneySavingExpert.com, for £80m a few years back.
In his journalistic capacity, Mr Lewis is always on the radio and TV, so, as a fellow hack, I introduced myself and asked if he could give me a quote about Mr Plumb for my article. “Talk to my PR people,” he huffed, breezing off into the afternoon sun.
I wondered if a bit of cash would make me that grand, too. Mr Plumb’s worked with a lot of entrepreneurs in his career: Sir James Dyson, Simon Nixon (founder of MoneySupermarket), and the founders of the Dunnhumby data group, which devised the Tesco Clubcard. He assured me these self-made men aren’t as prickly as they seem.
It’s not that they’re being rude, he assured me, it’s just that they’re more interested in what gets said, than how you say it. Diplomacy is clearly one of Mr Plumb’s strengths.
Now let me explain to you what happened from my perspective.
I was leaving the MSE Towers office building via the front door, late for a meeting. A man I’ve never met starts following me down the street. I turn around and he says: “I’m a journalist for the Evening Standard, I’m doing a piece on Peter Plumb, as I’ve seen you can I ask you a few questions?”
Now I have no idea who he is, and I’m late, so my response simply was: “Can you go through my press team? They handle media requests.” Which they do – people call up and make appointments, that’s how it usually works.
He never did get in touch. If he did I would’ve happily spoken to him.
I’m slightly surprised that he thinks that on an off chance by following me down the street I should drop everything – even though I have prior commitments – and that asking him to arrange it at a time that’s more convenient is somehow unreasonable.
Still he managed to get a story out of it. And now so have I!