Jim Romenesko has spoken with a press pool full of journalists who report on the craziness of dealing with the Fox News PR department. More specifically, dealing with the shadowy figure that is Irena Briganti, the Fox News and Fox Business SVP of media relations.
Much like Nikki Finke, photos of Briganti are hard to come by, Romenesko writes. But her presence is certainly felt if you’re ever trying to do a story about Fox or interview one of its journalists. Reporters tell tales of blacklists and being “iced”; of insults and transgressions that happened when they weren’t looking.
Not all of the criticism is negative. And, on a certain level, reporters seem to realize that working with the Fox PR team is like working with any other — publicists are advocating for their clients and you shouldn’t expect otherwise. But the tales these reporters tell fly in the face of the common PR goal of building strong relationships with journalists.
“I think she’s very good at doing what she’s obviously told to do, so I don’t blame her for being combative. The attitude clearly starts from the top,” Variety‘s Brian Lowry states. He says Briganti has called him both “fair” and a “hack.”
Media relations is key to most PR programs, and publicists will do all they can to maintain a good rapport with a reporter, especially when they have to call to complain about a story or make note of an error. We’ve never heard of a strategy where one publicist is singled out to go on the attack in the ways described, something that the Romenesko story says is happening at Fox.
But perhaps, The New York Times’ David Carr best articulates what could be behind the strange strategy.
“There are people and institutions… that make it so difficult during the reporting process and so unpleasant once the story is out that you can’t help but think twice about writing about them,” he says.
Perhaps it’s a media plan with a goal of keeping out of the news as much as they make, and report, it.