Exclusive Story Opportunity: THE MAD SCRAMBLE TO BE IBM

That was the headline on the best PR pitch we’ve seen in ages, and which we just now got our hands on. One of the filthiest hacks on the beat has been trying to curry favor with Katie, and she’s playing along, pretending to be his friend, hoping we can maybe use him for something at some point. Katie calls this her “back pocket strategy,” meaning it’s always good to keep a few of these frigtards in your back pocket in case you need them someday. Anyway, this hack just got an incredible story pitch from IBM, the gist of which is that every company in tech is trying to imitate IBM. The hack passed the pitch along to us, and now we’re passing it along to you. Because sooner or later someone is going to bite on this story idea, and you’re going to see it pop up someplace, with lots of glossy photos and quotes from analysts and IBMers. And maybe this will give you some idea how the sausage gets made. Enjoy.
What makes this interesting is that the Original Borg has been incredibly secretive and quiet in recent years. Seen any stories about Sam Palmisano lately? Seen his picture on the cover of any big business mags? The guy does not give interviews. Neither do any of his top reports. The place is locked down. But suddenly now they’re going around pitching a big feature story that they’d like someone to write and offering access to senior management.

Surely this couldn’t be because one of IBM’s top executives, the guy who was supposed to be the next CEO, just got pinched for insider trading, could it? Nah. Surely the flacks at IBM wouldn’t be stupid enough to try a distraction campaign. Because surely no publication would fall for that. Ahem.

So the gist of the pitch is, in light of HP buying EDS, and Dell buying Perot Systems, and Xerox buying ACS, there’s only one conclusion:

When you cut through the “synergy’s speak” and the bombastic rhetoric, a common and overwhelming truth emerges. The challenged makers of PC’s, Printers and Copiers are in a frenetic race to be … IBM.

Yup. That’s it. Everyone wants to be like IBM. Big, lumbering and fucktarded, with no product innovation in the past 20 years; earnings propped up by financial engineering; profits goosed by carrying over surpluses in the pension plan; numbers made by selling off pieces of the company, bit by bit; aggressive cost-cutting by moving thousands of jobs to India; retirees screwed out of their benefits — yup, there’s a fucking bright shining city on a hill, a model for every company in the world to imitate.

Better yet is IBM’s frat-house management team who all walk around acting like they’re a bunch of Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy type guys. Straight shooters. Stand-up guys. The kind of guys who have a firm handshake and look you right in the eye. Fair and square.

Ugh. I just threw up in my mouth. Hold on.

If you want to see the full version of the pitch letter you can find it here. I didn’t want to fill up this post with the whole thing because it’s pretty long. But it’s also pretty hilarious reading, especially if you’ve ever wondered how those big features on giant companies end up in your magazine.

Little hint: The companies think them up themselves, and put together a complete package, with charts and statistics, phone numbers for analysts and “independent observers” (all of them fully prepped and totally on message) — and then, when they’ve got the whole thing wrapped up with ribbons and bows, they go looking for a hack to write it up for them.

What makes this case especially ridiculous is that the hack who passed us this pitch has had a somewhat rocky relationship with the Original Borg. In fact, this hack was once on an O.B. blacklist, blocked out so severely that once, by accident, an outside agency invited him to an IBM event and when he showed up, panicked IBM flacks shuttled him off to a room by himself and kept him waiting there for an hour or so and then finally told him they couldn’t schedule any interviews today, sorry.

Another time the two top flacks at IBM actually met with the top two editors at this hack’s publication and demanded that the editors remove this hack from the IBM beat. Another times, an O.B. exec and his minions orchestrated letter-writing campaigns against this hack, bombarding the hack’s publications with letters denouncing him. The O.B. exec wrote his own letters to the publication, too, and in his he demanded that the hack should be terminated.

Now they want a favor. Funny how that shit comes around, isn’t it?