In the course of working on a story about the tobacco industry in China, I e-mailed Phillip Morris to ask if I could get an interview with them. Phillip Morris China’s communications people responded graciously and rapidly, but stonewalled me on my interview request. You’ll see why tobacco companies can have a hard time with their public image — in addition to selling cigarettes, that is. Read my e-mail exchange with them after the cut.
From: Wong Joon Ian [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2007 9:13 AM
To: PMI, Press Office
Subject: Media request — Interview, information
I’m a writer at China Economic Review magazine in Shanghai. I’m doing a piece on the restrictions on foreign tobacco companies in China. I would like to interview someone at Phillip Morris who deals with China business for this piece. How should I proceed?
Date: July 30, 2007 6:11:41 PM GMT+08:00
Subject: RE: Media request — Interview, information
Dear Mr. Wong,
Thank you for your enquiry.
China accounts for one third of tobacco production and consumption in the world. It is a strategic market for Philip Morris and we have established a cooperative partnership with the China Tobacco Corporation. China is a market controlled by the State Tobacco Monopoly and the international tobacco segment remains small.
Regarding your request for an interview, we do not have anything to add to the above information.
Thanks and best regards,
Corporate Affairs Department