A failure to communicate

Secret CIO holds his first press conference - and most likely, his last.

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By  Secret CIO Published  May 2, 2009

If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's never to repeat your mistakes. To quote Batman's dad, "Why do we fall? To learn to pick ourselves up again."

Well, I've just had the mother of all falls and it would need a particularly powerful rocket to get me out of a hole this deep. To recap for those of you just tuning in, last month I decided I'd hold a press conference to announce that we were A-OK, doing completely fine and so on. In my eagerness to save money, I decided against the obvious move of hiring a PR agency to organise it and decided that we were more than capable of organising such an event.

Big, big mistake. The logistics of organising an event aren't exactly rocket science - build medium-appropriate message, negotiate a good rate with the location manager, and find the most giveaway-friendly journalists to write good things about you. Surprisingly, however, each element posed significant problems.

First, message. Or rather, who was going to deliver it - because it sure wasn't going to be me. Unfortunately, our CEO was incredibly reticent about speaking to the press solo and insisted (via the proposal of making me redundant) that I sit in on the conference and interject as necessary.

Next - location. After heated discussions, it eventually came down to the first floor dining room of the dump where I had my wedding or the customer lounge of a water park. Seeing as how my father-in-law still worked at the hotel, the water park seemed a better bet. And hey, it's got novelty value.

Finally, journalists. Surprisingly, this turned out to be a lot harder that I expected, since the lazy gits rarely bother to pick up their phones (mobile or otherwise) Eventually, I resorted to bribery and corruption, luring ten of them to the conference with the promise of free rides all day.

The big day arrived all too soon. All my divisional heads were on hand, but my CEO was still nowhere to be seen with 15 minutes to showtime. To make matters worse, the make-up people kept insisting that I put some foundation on to look good for the TV cameras. In the lounge, the journalists were getting restless - perhaps the free food was starting to run out.

Finally, 20 minutes late, the CEO arrives - and to my horror, I realise why. He's had a severe allergic reaction to something (a mandarin, he claims) and he's refused medical attention. Now his face has swelled up to elephantine proportions and his lips resemble mangled blueberries.

But it's too late to do anything about it, so I hustle him on stage. There's a short, sharp intake of breath as the collected journos get a good look at him. Without any warning, he launches into his address, catching the assistant who was supposed to introduce him completely off guard. He rambles on for a good twenty minutes, then sits down equally abruptly - job done.

Now, the plan was to have 10 minutes of questions from the laziest set of journos in the world. What I didn't know was that one of the aides had accidentally informed them that we wouldn't be giving out free water park vouchers after all. This made them more than a little upset and they chose to display their displeasure in the ensuing Q+A by feasting on my CEO like a pack of rapid hyenas.

I did try to help him out, but the silly fool insisted on answering the brunt of the questions, none of which he had the answers to. At least I gave a good interview to the television press later to smooth things over slightly.

Or so I thought. Turns out the "no-makeup" thing was a really bad idea. Under the hot lights the perspiration on my forehead ran freely. I ended up looking like the guiltiest person on the planet - Nixon, eat your heart out.

Sigh. I think I'll stick to what I know in the future.

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