Your guide to Friday’s Financial Follies: Best Practices
“Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting.” — Gerard Baker, 12:01 a.m.
On Friday the world will be treated to the Financial Follies 2017. Hundreds of reporters covering business and finance, as well as the accompanying throng of flaks, will gather at the New York Hilton Midtown for dinner, drinks and — as tradition — a series of news-themed skits and musical numbers – before carousing at nearby bars until the wee hours of the morning.
It’s the financial media industry’s most prominent event of the holiday season. Professional networks will be expanded, content will be re-purposed, and rival PR firms will come together to throw back shots in the spirit of industry solidarity.
How important is the Follies?
If Jack O’Dwyer’s reporting is accurate, it was the single-most influential factor behind the New York financial media’s failure to anticipate the global financial crisis (scroll down to “Writers Focused on Annual Follies”).
Flaks and journalists will set aside their differences and rage well into the night. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran of Follies past (I’ve heard many stories, always told with a misty-eyed fondness, about the legendary “liquidity lounge”), or a bright-eyed young assistant account executive planning to attend for the first time, we’ve got you covered with a few guidelines about how to comport yourself at the industry’s premier networking event.
- Arrive early. Treat this as you would a Harry Potter movie premiere and show up a day early, if possible.
- Tell your editor that you need to leave the office by 5 p.m. sharp or you will unionize.
- Lay off the avocado toast for a Scaramucci and you should be able to save enough money for a house, or, alternatively, two drinks at the Follies.
- Journalists, make sure to ask probing questions – what color is the label on the bottle of Johnnie Walker your PR-firm hosts plan to order? Where are you drinking before the event?
- If you plan on wearing a bowtie, but have no experience tying one, make sure you start practicing before noon on Friday – it takes a few hours to get the hang of it.
What to bring:
● Cash. At least a cool Wilbur Ross million ($7). The PR firms should buy you drinks, but in case you get lost or find a not-so-crowded bar and there are no flaks around, you’ll need some money. Also, be warned: The coat check contributed to the bankruptcy of one member of the financial press back in 2014.
● Make sure you have a stash of Pedialite and/or Gatorade waiting for you at home.
● Eclipse glasses.
● If you’re in PR, don’t forget to bring an alphabetized binder of pitches. Every pitch. Be the fearless flak you wish to see in the world. Don’t be bashful — this is your time to shine!
What not to wear:
● Cargo shorts.
With these tips in mind, prepare to enjoy a fun evening with several thousand of your closest colleagues in the industry.
And remember the number one rule of financial media: have fun! And also limit your use of unnamed sources.
Happy Follies everybody.
Bill C. Smith (@BillCSmith87) is a vice president at Makovsky in New York.