Campaign and new business agencies

This week Campaign ran this article on its website:

It’s a first-hand, confession-style account of one person’s experiences working at a new business agency. It’s an interesting article and has prompted a flurry of comments. However, I’m not convinced it was a good idea for Campaign to run it.

Let’s put to one side for a moment the issue of whether a leading trade mag like Campaign should really be the forum for a disgruntled employee to conduct this kind of poison pen revenge job – these articles are often very popular with readers who can recognise the scenario and identify with the writer. Let’s also accept that the cloak of anonymity was essential for the author to fully express his views. We can even refrain from pointing out that Tom Messenger’s writing would have benefited from the attention of a more vigorous copy editor.

The real problem with this article is that it doesn’t offer a portrayal of life in new business agencies that many people working in that industry today would recognise. Ten years ago there were quite a few a few disreputable agencies like the one described here. They were terrible places to work and they did little for their clients other than waste their time and money. However, the industry has matured. Most new business agencies are now thoroughly professional outfits, employing bright and hard-working people who use a tried and tested formula to provide good new business¬† leads for their clients.

The comments on Campaign’s website page make this point in no uncertain terms, and many of them raise the question of what Campaign was thinkng of running something as poorly researched and one-sided as this. There is, without doubt, a place for first person anonymous confession-style articles, but they¬† have to ring true with the readers. Before agreeing to publish them, the editorial team needs to speak to a few people in the industry – both clients and practitioners – to check that they recognise the scenario being portrayed.

Sadly it doesn’t look as though Campaign did this. I believe this is a reflection of the trend in so much journalism – away from properly-researched articles by capable and impartial journalists and towards sensationalist diatribes from amateurs with axes to grind. It does no one any favours, least of all the publication involved.

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