NYT Writer Creeped Out by Her PR Dossier


Most PR people and the pitching services they use maintain profiles for prominent media contacts.

You can imagine how that might be a little weird for the other party, though, right? The vast majority of journalists aren’t celebrities, but accessing such a profile would be similar to a boy band member reading his own Teen Beat “interview.”

Natasha Singer, who covers business in various forms for The New York Times, wrote of encountering her own dossier this weekend.

It was awkward.

Singer received a birthday @ despite the fact that she doesn’t list her date of birth on any public profiles. So she called Dean Rotbart, a former reporter who now runs NewsBios, a company that sells such dossiers to PRs and “corporations seeking to prep company executives on the journalists who interview them.”

The idea is to use public information like government records and social media posts to derive insights about individual journos or “things they would not disclose or be inclined to disclose…information that reflects on the journalist’s character and proclivities.”

And politics. And personal details. Singer wasn’t upset by some inaccurate attributions, but this analysis of a photo of the back of her head(!) was just a bit too much:

“The fact that only the back of her head is showing may be coincidental…or it may be further evidence that she, a veteran fashion and cosmetics industry reporter, herself has a low self-esteem when it comes to appearances.”

Or it may be a sign of psychopathic tendencies waiting to erupt. Just look at the way she is (apparently) giving the model a pedicure in the picture atop this article. Can’t you tell she’s ready to attack?

For the record, Singer confirms that her Cision/Vocus profiles “contained only facts, not suppositions.” She also notes that the only real difference between the way this service studies journalists and the way they research their own subjects is that writers have to let those third parties know that they’ll be profiled…unless they want to get into legal trouble.

Still, it’s a little odd to see oneself psycho-analyzed in this way, isn’t it? And we wonder how valuable that little insight about Singer’s supposed insecurities really was.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: October 6, 2014 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/nyt-writer-creeped-out-by-her-pr-dossier/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT