PR Wall of Shame #pauto #public_relations #automation #marketing

I haven't written a PR Wall of Shame post in over a year. Partly because I got tired of talking about the same mistakes, and partly because I don't really think the end users care.

But lately, I've been getting a rash of the same situation. Here's the latest example:

Last week:

PRFIRM: Here's a bylined article by a client, do you want it? You can have an exclusive!

ME: I'd like to take a look at it, but it will take about a week to get back to you because I'm really busy.

PRFIRM: That's fine, let us know.


ME: Okay, I'd like to use this as our Web Exclusive Feature in the October or November issue. We put the title on the cover, put it in the TOC with a URL instead of a page number and if we have room in a subsequent paper issue, we run it. It goes online at and we feature it in eNewsletters and on the site.

PRFIRM: Well we gave it to several other magazines. We will re-write it for you and preserve your exclusive. What's your deadline?

ME: If you gave it to other magazines when you offered me an exclusive I am no longer interested in the story at all. I had asked you for a week to consider it.

Does everybody see what happened here? This is called bait-and-switch. I have a list of firms that will NEVER get coverage in Control. It is a very small list of PR firms. This PR firm just made that list.

This firm is very very lucky that I happen to like and admire their client a lot, so I will continue to follow and report news on their client. Too bad about the article though. I really wanted it, because it was a good article, and would resonate with Control's audience very well.

But I'm glad they told me before I invested too much energy in it. Eight months ago, one of the very largest PR firms in the country representing one of the Big Ten automation companies gave me a story that I was going to re-write into a Control-style case study. I told them when it was going to be published repeatedly. When I was doing my last bit of fact checking, the week before the magazine was supposed to go to print, I found the case study online, in several places. I'd already written my 2000 word case study, found illos and it was in InDesign ready to go into the magazine. Luckily, I was able to find another story, written by an end-user, that I could use to plug the three pages of white space this PR firm left me with.

Come on, people, this isn't rocket science. If you send me an "exclusive" it darn better well be one.

Remember what Mark Twain said? "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel."


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