A surprisingly frequent conversation we have with media relations clients is why a press release or (lengthy) quote wasn't used verbatim.
Perhaps it is unique to our client group - lawyers and accountants - but I suspect not.
And it doesn't seem to matter how many times or how long we spend coaching an individual.
And now, thanks to Simon English, a reporter on the business pages of the Evening Standard, I have the perfect answer.
"We didn't become hacks because we like taking dictation."
OK, he was talking about how business leaders try and tell reporters the angle to take on a story, but the answer still rings true.
A press release is the start for a story - not the story. And a lengthy quote is rarely used in full.
An irritating quirk that started with the more high-minded flaks has lately spread to CEOs, I fear. It is to say this: “That’s the story.” This signal -- it can sound like an order -- follows an often straight-forward, information-seeking question. We want to check what your dividend policy has been and whether the City is happy with the plan. But we are unlikely to agree that it going up 2% is our top line. This stuff does more damage than flaks and CEOs realise. Even if we sound demure and polite on calls, we’re not really. We certainly didn’t become hacks because we like taking dictation.