PR Blog Week Founder Looks To The Future Of PR
Colin McKay: Gov Web 2.0 Communications Pioneer

9/11 Bad Pitch

The Global PR Blog Week inspired me to go back to some of the early PR bloggers and look at their work. Phil Gomes is one of the first, if not the first PR blogger. He started in August of 2001, just before 9/11.

On 9/11, Phil wrote about his feelings in the early evening of September 11 in My Generation's Own Pearl Harbor:

In addition it seems both appropriate and inappropriate that one of the first PR controversies on his blog was a pitch email the afternoon of the 9/11. An agency sent out a pitch suggesting their client's product was of a similar crisis and level of importance to the events of 9/11. Phil published the pitch, with the names of the PR person and agency removed.

Phil covered the bad pitch the following Monday in "And You Thought That Terrorism Created Tragedies?".

Reactions to the pitch were detailed in Phil's "And You Thought That Terrorism Created Tragedies?" (Cont'd):

The employee who sent the email resigned, and the CEO of the agency apologized.

On the day when the U.S. was reeling from the attacks of 9/11 the PR professional who sent the pitch did not understand the consequences of what was happening around them, they also did not stop to consider how inappropriate their reference to 9/11 was in the pitch. When a PR professional attempts any communication it's important to think about how their communication will connect with their audience, that means you have to understand what's important to an audience at that moment in time. I seem to recall my employer sent everyone home, and we pretty much did not do very much for the rest of the week. Having a sense for history helps as well.

Getting your facts right about history is also important, on a lighter note, later in the month Phil shared with his readers a history lesson and confusion over names. Pitch Ultimately Yields Inadvertent History Lesson:

"Unfortunate Error In my recent letter regarding my client, I had referred to its managing partners as having "interesting Alger Hiss backgrounds." I meant to say that they had "Horatio Alger" backgrounds. So they can be characterized as rags-to-riches types, not as highly placed diplomats acting as double agents for the Soviets."