The unusual nature of PR apologies

27 May 2006

One of the most curious things about the PR-journalist relationship is how PRs try to make amends for things going wrong. An interview meant to happen yesterday did not materialise in time to hit a deadline. I did not find out it was not happening until the deadline ran out. This was after giving the company something like eight working days to come up with someone qualified to talk about the subject of a release issued by the very same organisation.

I had to go out straight after the deadline and found, on my return, a voicemail and an email. Both said sorry. But in the email there was something to make up for all the hassle, which actually goes back a lot further than this incident - this is not the first time that the company has failed to deliver anything useful, and in response to some pretty innocuous requests. The most I have got out of them recently was an earful from the US marcom about untrustworthy British journalists. But that's another story.

Attached to the email was a press release. "A UK exclusive", according to the PR on the voicemail. Fantastic, because we're still using the old steam-powered Interweb here, which is incompatible with the US superhighway that carried said announcement to the rest of the world on May 16. In fact, when I first looked at it, I thought it was a more recent release that went out the following Monday. But on closer inspection I realised the release actually pre-dated the one I was trying to follow up.

But it's curious isn't it? I am not just some idiot who cannot, apparently, access the newswires to get this myself. I'm supposed to think that the chance to publish some puff piece on an old dull partnership deal makes up for all the trouble. Right. I only hope they don't mess up something really badly.