So since I’m sitting here staring at some presentation on FX and trying to turn it into an article that sounds like I interviewed the guy and since I have been unable to do more than stare for a whole half hour, I’ve decided to amuse somebody else instead and report on a press conference I went to.
Went to the press conference for really devious reasons since it actually isn’t much use in terms of story material for the mag (I thought). However, once I was struck by all the minute observations that inspire me to write this blog and I felt almost creative and was moved to remind myself that I should get out more often and actually meet real people instead of staring at a presentation on FX options all day.
So this presentation provided the ideal opportunity to zone in on some of the typical characters at these events:
1) Mood changing PR chick: The really great PR girls are hot looking and seem incredibly warm and friendly even when they’re not. The so-so ones are not so hot but still warm and friendly which in fact works because you’re not consumed by jealousy and resentment when dealing with them. The not-so-good PR girls are the one’s who are neither hot and who are friendly only when they need you, and don’t bother to cover this up by being sort of friendly otherwise.
Like the PR are girl at this press con. She is not good looking. She is nice only for the five minutes that you’re directly looking at her and if there’s a guy from the FT behind you can see her slipping away. She turns away from her lukewarm reception to you to go “Oh you’re from FT” and practically have an orgasm right there while trying to get him the best seat.
Which thankfully were already taken and even she could not be so rude as to ask the rest of us to move.
2) The guy from FT/Bloomberg/Reuters: I’m always thinking that these guys are going to be intelligent because they are generally older, most often white (which doesn’t have much to do with intelligence but it’s just a ubiquitous characteristic), and well dressed. They also furrow their brows and look like they have intelligent questions on their minds. But they finally monopolize the Q & A session asking the same mundane question that I had doodled on my notebook and was contemplating asking just for the sake of asking and not because it’s particularly interesting. Because I’ve learnt to save the interesting question for a private interview. They could be doing the same thing but the gravitas with which they ask their question seems to indicate that they think it’s of dire importance.
3) The interviewee: Normally some senior banker who is acutely uncomfortable at the prospect of being asked questions that they often think are irrelevant and who are torn between the recognition of the importance of the press and getting good press and the underlying belief that there’s something wrong with talking to people who couldn’t possibly be smart enough if they’re not bankers and don’t make as much money. I agree. Business journos are often the worst kind – because if you’re that interested in banking then why aren’t you a banker and drawing that kind of salary? (that inevitably a host of them end up in corp comms departments of banks is another story). Of course, there are the few that are the arty types that would not fit into a banking setting but who love to write but if you’re a number cruncher then you’re a number cruncher right?
4) The Chinese press reporter: Will dress in jeans and funkyish tops like they’ve come straight from college (which I totally respect because I believe journos by nature should not be smartly dressed). Common behaviour is keeping mobile on during press conference and even answering calls with their hands over their mouths like they’re permanently awaiting a breaking story to arrive via cell phone. Then one of them will ask a question in all seriousness – which just happens to be the same question that he/she or a clone of he/she asked at every single press conference I’ve been to over the past year: “is the A-share market overvalued?” Interviewee may be uncomfortable answering this for one, because it’s really not what the conference is about or he may attempt to answer. Regardless reporter will persist: “But is it overvalued? Is it? Why can’t you say its overvalued and it’s going to crash so my editor will have his headline and I can go cuddle with my boyfriend in the MTR or buy a Hello Kitty toy or whatever it is I do after work?”
5) Smart journos: A rare breed and generally women who emanate attractiveness simply because they are intelligent. Ask an insightful question…Give others a chance to ask question. Get on with their lives.
Post the press con Chinese reporters will rush to the speakers, arms out wielding visiting cards. Interviewers look dazed and mechanically smile and hand out cards. Foreign correspondents hang back and smirk when they are secretly longing to plunge in and ass lick themselves but of course in a more sophisticated way. Foreign correspondents finally interject Chinese reporters and begin long conversation with banker I think to prove that they are both different from the card-handouters and also intelligent. PR girl will allow long conversation to go on only if foreign correspondent is white, male and preferably from FT/WSJ/Reuters/Bloomberg.
The rest of us can go to hell. Ah well, all in a day’s work.