David Segal writes a column in The New York Times Money section. Two weeks ago, The Haggler set its sights on what he calls PR spam – where press releases are sent to every journalist, regardless of relevance.
It’s the journalism equivalent of being hustled by beggars as you walk down the street. But in a remarkable twist, Segan turned it from being hunted to being hunter, trying to find out why businesses were handing over good money to lazy PR companies “fishing with dynamite”.
After discovering that his email was on a list sold to PR firms, he contacted the company responsible, Vocus, and when attempts to have his name deleted failed, he started calling Vocus executives at home, at around 8 pm, eventually catching an unsuspecting and extremely apologetic senior vice president who promised to act.
The email bombardment ceased.
Next, Segal rang Andrew Lazorchak, managing director of Soireehome, the company behind a “self-chilling, iceless drinking glass”, who paid a PR firm, Avalon Communications, US$1500 a month retainer to promote its products.
The MD’s explanation is a lesson to every business paying closer attention to what they’re paying for with PR.
“We don’t know what Avalon does on a day-to-day basis. They just send us a bimonthly report, detailing what they have been able to do for our company,” Mr Lazorchak.
But he wasn’t happy to find out how they did it.
Next up, Segal tried to contact Avalon, but “the company did not respond to a phone call, an email or a Facebook message. Ironic, given that it specialises in communicating”.
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