Thursday, July 30, 2009

CCHQ press office silliness

Alastair Campbell's dictum was that the spin doctor should not become the story and if they do, they go. I'm wondering what that means for the Tory press office as they have, collectively it seems, become the story - at least a little one anyway.

Both Tory Bear and Iain Dale picked up on this last night. I was sent it too but left it until this morning because I don't blog in the evening's unless I'm doing a night shift. The story is basically one where the blogger Tory Politico tried to get a copy of the letter the Tories press released last night from Cameron to Brown on the issue of TV debates.

Tory Politico was told by a grunt in CCHQ that he couldn't have it because he didn't matter, and was further told that he couldn't be added to any press release distribution lists. When I read I thought "no surprise there".

I tried to get myself added to the distribution lists more than once but failed dismally. In fact, it was only after the Newsnight thing that I suddenly, and miraculously started receiving press releases and operational notes from CCHQ (that may stop now though, who knows).

The thing is, there is a wider issue here and whoever said this is missing a trick. If, as the conversation Tory Politico has posted shows, they really want to have an efficient means of putting their message out then sending the releases to sympathetic bloggers wouldn't be that worthless.

After all, the more blogs that push their lines - either verbatim or with a disclaimer that it came from a release - the more chance they have of those lines being disseminated widely and/or being picked up in search results. It's not rocket science.

Personally speaking I think they should perhaps set up a blogger distribution list, or even make releases available in a secured online area. Am currently waiting for a call back from the Press office to get a comment on what the policy of dealing with bloggers actually is.

Update: Have just spoken to senior press guy at Tory CCHQ about this. He's said that the matter is "under review". The reason he gave for not adding bloggers to the general distribution lists that go out to the Lobby is because in the past bloggers on the list have not played by the rules and have broken embargos, especially on operational notes which announce events that have restricted access or numbers.

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