PR Wall of Shame

Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief of CONTROL Magazine, and I are working on our presentation on May 21st at the MCAA Annual Conference. The topic is “PR: How to Get Editors Attention and Then What To Do With It!”

Walt had a great idea. We’re going to end the presentation with our “PR Wall of Shame” — the worst examples of public relations in the automation markets. I’ve got a good one for you…

A former client asked us to set up a major press tour for a spin-off of theirs in the semiconductor industry. We spent several months planning and writing and e-mailing and calling and, in the end, put together a darn good press tour.

It was a multi-city tour and all the major publications were going to be visited including EE Times and EDN. Unfortunately, the client’s budget was a little tight, so they couldn’t bring us on the road with them. That made us a bit nervous, but we reluctantly agreed.

The client hits the road and makes it through the first city with just a few bumps along the way. Then they get to California where they are set to visit some of the most influential editors in the semiconductor industry. These are contacts we’ve painstakingly nurtured over the years. Some are fragile egos that need lots of TLC.

An hour after the first visit was to start I receive a phone call from the editor — where is my client? I’m confused. What do you mean, where is my client? Apparently they were a no-show! I gasp!!! This was a few years ago, so they didn’t have a cell phone. I call the main office, but no one knows what’s going on. An hour later I get a call from another editor — where is my client? They proceed to stand up several days worth of editor visits on what was supposedly a very important product launch.

A few days later I learn that the CEO, the person who was on the road and who was basically the chief salesman, concluded the PR route was too slow. He decided that while he was in California he was going to cold call prospects instead of visiting the press. No notice, no warning, no “sorry I can’t see you today calls.” He just spent the rest of the week cold-calling.

Not surprisingly, we fired the client the next week. Then we spent the next few months repairing the damaged relations with the press. ::sigh::


  1. Rich Merritt says:

    I have a similar story. We set up a media tour for a HMI/SCADA software client, starting in New York City, then on to New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago, RTP–the usual deal. I wrote a presentation for the company prez to give, and he gave it twice on the first day, then decided he didn’t want to be there, and why don’t I do it instead?

    So, for the remainder of the tour, I was the company prez.

    It wasn’t quite a disaster because we landed a cover placement on a tabloid, a feature article, a case history story, and generated 3,000 inquiries (in the days of bingo cards, not the Internet). They didn’t know what to do with so many inquiries, so they didn’t do anything. The c ompany is history, and still owes us about $8K in unpaid fees.

    Rich Merritt

  2. sharilee says:

    Way to save the day, Rich! Sorry to hear about the $8k, though.

    We weren’t so lucky as the press tour had moved to the opposite coast and the company obviously wasn’t investing anything more in their PR program. Too bad. I’m sure it cost them untold dollars in highly credible publicity from the top tier mags.

    Follow through, people, or don’t start the project to begin with.

  3. Paniga says:

    This is great info to know.

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