a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Blacklisted: you (may not) know who you are

For the first time since moving to Bristol last year, I’ve blacklisted a sector publication for sloppiness. It’s a little-known mag, whose staff sometimes send me annoying emails offering to reproduce a press release ‘for free’ (wow!) if I let them contact partners and pressure them to support this with ad revenue.

This is a dodgy tactic that plays on partners’ goodwill. But it’s supported by some because they are not directly charged for the ad space. I’ve always been staggered by how attractive this approach appears to be to some in the construction industry or public sector. But, believe me, it works.

Since moving to the South West, I’ve made a point of not taking up the ‘free offer’. This is mostly because I don’t have time to spend pulling something together that people won’t read when other more credible outlets are interested in what we have to say and won’t charge partners to feature it. It’s a bad idea and I just don’t see how anyone – readers, ourselves or partners – benefits from it. The only winners are the ad sellers, who barely seem to have a grasp of what they are selling (other than to say ‘it’s free’). I think they have got the message after 18 months.

I had to contact the same publisher last week after it ran a piece on ‘cuts’ for a scheme, which appeared to have been lifted from a local newspaper article without checking the facts with us first. Lifting news is a bad move in anyone’s book. But, if you aren’t journalistically trained, you may not appreciate this.

Had someone from the ‘editorial team’ called me, I would have told them that millions of pounds of public money had been invested in the project and further investment was to be agreed. I was never offered that opportunity to explain the situation.

In failing to carry out the most basic of journalistic practices and offer a right of reply, I called last Monday to speak to the editor. A day after leaving a message, they called back and their first bemused response was: ‘How did you get hold of the article? We’re a subscription-only publication.’

People subscribe? Blimey! Anyway, a week later, I am still waiting for the editorial team to ring me to discuss the issue. So, congratulations guys; your handling of this has put you on a list of those publications never to be dealt with by me, by virtue of being a complete waste of everyone’s time.

I’ve been tempted to ‘name and shame you’, as others have done. But you know who you are. Then again, if current form is anything to go by, you probably don’t…

One response to “Blacklisted: you (may not) know who you are

  1. Pingback: How (not) to win customers (and blacklist yourself) « Benlowndes

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