Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A moment in the life of a press officer

If you think about it for a moment, it's not actually possible for someone to read every article in every newspaper every day. There's, what, 12, 13 national papers? Another dozen major regionals? Then the locals and so on.

So of course what happens is that a press officer, like myself, doesn't in fact read every newspaper. There's a lot of speed reading and some sections get barely a glance. Then of course there's the computer systems that can be used to search for certain words: UKIP say, or "Gerard Batten", to see if there's a hidden story somewhere of interest to us.

This system can cause problems though. As it did today.

Part of the job here is to see stories before they happen, that way we can talk to journalists and have our say about the subject before they start writing their stories.

So I noted that the ban on short selling was leading to problems with the HBOS and Lloyd's merger. Hmm, that's interesting, so I phone up a City Editor and:

"Hello, this is Tim from UKIP"

"Hello Tim, what's up today?"

"Well, I've just realised that this ban on short selling of financials is causing problems for HBOS."

"How so?"

Well, everyone's worried that the HBOS price is so low as compared with the Lloyd's offer price. Makes people think the deal won't go through."


"But speculators might want to take advantage of that low price...HBOS is 121p, but Lloyd's is offering 191p in its own shares. So a hedgie would buy HBOS and short Lloyd's so as to lock in his profit. This would bring the two prices closer together, make the deal more likely to happen and make everyone worry less. But he can't short Lloyd's so he won't do the deal at all."

"You're absolutely right Tim. Which is why we ran this story in our finance pages this morning. That the ban on shorting financials is having some very bad effects upon the markets".


Even though I can't read all of every paper each day, I am going to have to read more of them, aren't I?


Mark Wadsworth said...

To be honest, stories like this started appearing a day or two ago, couldn't say where.

Trixy said...


I had a better way of dealing with 'em.