The reason why I put a disclaimer in my “commercial” post below is because I was asked not too long ago if I was hired by the cellphone companies to “endorse” their products in my blog and out of it. No, I didn’t take it against this person who claims to dutifully compile my newspaper columns every week and put them in a folder. He was just curious if I could actually earn money from blogging. I had to tell him that this blog is a labor of love for now and the extra money I get for writing my articles is barely enough to cover my phone bills/ internet connection, taxi fares to and from press events and the absurd amounts (in kilobytes) I am charged for testing a mobile phone’s Web-browsing capabilities.
People think you must have it good laying your hands on the latest gadgets before they’re even put out in the market. In a way, yes. Technology is changing by the minute and it is always an “educational” experience having to write about the goings-on in the tech field. The not-so-fun part, which most fail to see, is the challenge of coping with deadlines and coming up with a decent, well-researched article. It is really swell when you’d rather lounge around in Starbucks and you have to face your desk, crunching words into the computer instead.
Somehow, being part of media again (albeit in a minor, part-time capacity) gives me a feeling of deja vu. It has once again opened my eyes to the realities existing in this field.Here are my thoughts and tidbits on the matter:
1. Question: Do we get freebies? Yes, corporate giveaways are standard in IT-related presscons. Often these include thumb drives, towels (!) and notebooks (the one made of paper, not the one with Intel inside.) There are exceptional cases such as the pricey 40k+++ cellphone my editor refused from a willing donor. Did he regret it? Maybe. But sometimes, discretion calls. In case of “freebies,” it is always safe to be guided by your own sense of judgment.
2. Graciously receive, but don’t ask. Of course it depends on what you “receive” but really, some media men have the habit of “asking” and “demanding” as if the world owes them everything. As a rule, it’s not advisable to ask for favors because publicists and company reps happen to have this habit of gossiping about who asked for what, which is not good for your credibility factor.
Maybe it helps that I was on the receiving end of dealing with these requests before so I know how such a predicament can sometimes be very “unnerving.” In my former CorpComm post, the requests ranged not only from hotel accommodations to event sponsorships to umbrellas. They also included extending financial assistance for hospitalization, fire and the burial of certain relatives! It felt good to have helped some people but it’s also grating to have helped and still be made to feel that the assistance you facilitated was not enough. A publicist’s work is never done!
3. Having been a publicist myself, I opt to keep my distance from publicists, except for the very few I’ve made friends with. With some of them, you’re only as good as your last article. They don’t even say thank you. They only know your editor. But then again, being a PR must be hard considering all the sh*t they have to live with.
4.I cannot help but be impressed with XX, a lifestyle deskperson of a top 3 publication (not MB). A call to Globe and he would be supplied with prepaid cards to give to his boylets. A call to the hotel PRs and he would be off to a bacchanalian weekend. But it really got to me when he made you feel as if it was such a big deal and “utang na loob” if he treated you. “Nang dahil sa akin kaya ka nakakatikim ng masarap na pagkain.” Duh??
Moral of the story: do not ever brag about the “bribes” you receive. I need not tell you that it’s utterly tasteless.
5. And when I think about it, it must be hard being a pampered, spoiled rotten member of the media. Fortunately, my friends remain humble and grounded; the same cannot be said of others who have grown egos the size of a Ferris Wheel and have abused their powers/privileges to the core. One would be wiser not to be blinded by all those gift cheques, junket trips and fruit baskets because who will you be and what will you be when all that is gone? Would you really like all those perks to be part of what completes you and makes you happy? Just a thought.
one should do his/her job because well, it’s his job, not for freebies and all. they’re nice to have and i’d be a hypocrite if I say i wouldn’t enjoy a giftbag but i’d remind myself why i applied for a certain job and why I am doing my job.
Probably there’s nothing wrong with it since bribes, er, gifts are already institutionalized in media..tsk, tsk
your editor should be commended for refusing that blessing from heaven.
Dr Emer says
I’ve always believed you’re not the type of person who would endorse a product because of a bribe. If you endorsed something, it would be for its merits.
In my line of work, marami ding “bribes” to prescribe a certain medication over another. But I do as I please. If its not warranted, I don’t give it.
Kamusta ka na, fellow Berk? Miss ko na mga EBs natin. Sana meron ulit para makasama naman ako. 🙂
is it just the filipino media or not?
anyway, you can’t please everybody talaga. there are always people who will say bad things for the sake of saying something. sigh.
Ummm… I’m not sure if there will be giveaways but I would like to invite you to an event we will be having Friday next week with Concert Software. Dinner po. I’ll send it thru gmail. Hope you can come. Thanks.
Right on, dexie…the freebies are a bonus but we shouldn’t forget that we are there to do our job in the first place.
Isn’t that extraordinary, Ben? Not everyone can refuse a “blessing from heaven,” hehe
That’s an eye-opener Dr. E. I am sure you are always surrounded by med reps, haha. We missed you during our last EB!
Hi Tin. I would think that “freebies” like giveaways and junkets are a given with media in any other part of the world. The question is who gets to have too much of everything;)
Tatay Watson! Sige, I’ll wait for your email although dyahe, may utang pa ako sa Concerto, lol
I’m glad to know that you did not take it against me when I asked you that question. Thank you. It was really an innocent, no-hidden-insinuation query. As I’m not in the media, I honestly don’t know the goings-on behind-the-scenes (or should i say, behind-the-pages) in your industry.
Anyway, with regard to freebies, I guess it’s an issue in almost all occupations. In our office, for example, many freebies come during the christmas season. But I feel no impropriety in accepting them because those gifts could never be considered a bribe to me. I’m too low in the corporate hierarchy to have any say in our company’s dealings with them. But more importantly, I haven’t done anything in the past, nor in a position to do anything in the future, that had favored/will favor them. In other words, there couldn’t a connection between their gifts and any action on my part. And they also know that. (That I don’t have any signing, approving, nor recommending authority.) Thus, I don’t feel guilty of being bribed.
The contemptible “gift-takers” (for lack of a more apt term), I believe, are those who shamelessly ask (nay, demand) for freebies, like many goverment officials.
Hi Nilo. Thanks for making your presence felt in my comments box (hehe)
I agree with you. There’s really nothing wrong in taking gifts which are given as a gesture of goodwill. But some are too expensive or laced with malice that they can be construed as trying to influence your judgment or decision; worse is when the gift-takers themselves ask for their judgment or decision to be influenced as a form of standard operating practice. Oh well…