FT columnist warned of harm to 'relationships with advertisers' by PR after column about Hewlett Packard Enterprise


A Financial Times journalist was warned about affecting "relationships with advertisers" after she wrote a piece poking fun at Hewlett Packard Enterprise's chief executive.

On 31 January, the FT published a Lucy Kellaway piece headlined: "Boneheaded aphorisms from Davos’s windy summit."

In it, she quoted Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive Meg Whitman saying: "You can always go faster than you think you can."

Kellaway said: "I admire the Whitman aphorism for its simple syntax and nice short words. The only trouble with it is that it’s nonsense. Often in business you can’t go nearly as fast as you fondly think you can. When you try, you fall on your face — and Ms Whitman, of all people, should know that. If her predecessor at HP hadn’t been quite so hasty in buying Autonomy, it would have saved itself a big mess."

Kellaway has revealed that the piece prompted an email from the company's chief marketing and communications officer Henry Gomez (pictured – credit: Hewlett Packard Enterprises) in which he said he was "disappointed" by the piece and especially by the "snide" dig about Autonomy.

He said: "FT management should consider the impact of unacceptable biases on its relationships with advertisers.”

Kellaway wrote: "It is a very long time since I’ve been at the receiving end of such aggression."

In an open response to Gomez, she wrote: "It is my editors’ steadfast refusal to consider the impact of stories on advertisers that makes us the decent newspaper we are. It is why I want to go on working here. It is why the FT goes on paying me."

She added: "…as head of marketing, you are likely to have an interest in ensuring that the company’s advertising message reaches the right audience. Assuming the decision to advertise in the FT was right in the first place, it would seem crazy — and not in shareholders’ best interests — to change course based on pique."

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