More or less every time I sit down with a journalist these days, I hear about some more appalling PR conduct. The problem with the PR industry is that it’s unregulated, so anyone who can afford a website or a business card can set themselves up as a PR agency.
That said, there are a number of companies who employ in house PRs who seem as bad as the charlatans who scavenge for business in the freelance PR world. The latest gaff involves a press exec at a record label who is representing an artist about to release a new album. The PR was trawling for interviews for their client and promised an exclusive interview to a certain magazine. However, unbeknown to the journalist, this artist had already given an exclusive interview to another journalist for a totally different publication. The PR at the record company wouldn’t or couldn’t, for reasons unknown, tell the journalist that the promised exclusive wasn’t going to go ahead which led the journalist to keep reassuring her now jumpy editor that the interview was going to happen.
They were left hanging on like this for some time before the journalist confronted the PR who still claimed they would get the interview. It was only until the journalist was at a lunch with another member of the record company that she found out an exclusive had already been given to another magazine and was going to print in a few days.
When the journalist confronted the PR with this new information, they denied all knowledge of the promised exclusive, then they acted confused, wouldn’t admit their error and finally just ran and hid. Actions of PRs like this make things very tricky for professionals who are just trying to do their job. Ineptitude on this level has a ripple effect throughout the business.