How Not To Do Profile

First I saw this piece in the Washington Post profiling long time PR person for Hillary Clinton Philippe Reines and thought, wow, that was sort of painful. Then I saw the Gawker take on the story, complete with a pretty good set of recommendations on how to avoid, to whit:

1. Don’t be profiled by people who have already developed a deep dislike of you.

If you are asked to be the subject of a profile, and you know that the person or institution that wants to profile you already hates you, you must either 1) decline to participate, and write it off as creative differences, or 2) try to charm the writer so much that he changes his opinion of you somewhat.

2. Don’t try to write the profile yourself.

This is a common problem with egomaniacs. They may interpret "charm the writer" as "tell the writer, in detail, exactly what to write, because he will appreciate that, and you know better than the writer, anyhow." Philippe Reines seems to suffer from this delusion.

Even as he shipped out with Clinton to an Arctic summit in Greenland, he e-mailed his profiler: "Would it be helpful if I sent you random factoids, pieces of color? For instance, I don’t ever drink D.C. tap water."

He then offered a series of bullet-point notes, including such information as "I take Pilates," "I walk to work" and "When I wear cuff-linked shirts, I wear a set that look like sink faucets, one’s marked hot one’s marked cold. It’s a self-aware reflection that I can be both."

3. Don’t be an egg-sucking self promoter.

See, if you’re going to go along with a profile by someone who already hates you, and you’re unable to keep yourself from trying to write the damn thing for them, the very least you can do is to try to refrain—during the interviews for your profile—from engaging in the very sort of behavior that earned you your bad reputation in the first place.

The whole thing is mostly right and worth reading!

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