Bad PR # 1: The PR who wants to dictate what you write

I’ve just had the PR of a well-known UK shoe company send me an angry rant complaining about a very positive blog post I wrote about a pair of their shoes, in which I described the shoe as “lovely”, “classy” and “appealing”, but also mentioned that it was on the expensive side, and that the company in question have been raising their prices over the past year.

It was the last bit they didn’t like.

The PR in question is livid about the piece, and suggests that I have some kind of vendetta against the company, as I have mentioned the rising prices before – albeit in posts which are otherwise very positive.

Now, last I checked, I wasn’t employed by this company, therefore I don’t see it as my job to promote them. My job is to review their shoes, and to give an opinion about them. In this case, it so happens that my opinion is generally positive (it’s a brand I buy myself – or it was, until this PR got aggressive with me), although given that these are essentially reviews, they are not simply glowing pieces of PR fluff, but contain both good and bad points about the shoes.

Well, I emailed the angry PR and said that while I was sorry to see her so enraged, I felt that the coverage of the brand in question was balanced, and that the point about price was a fair one. She has now emailed me to say that while I should “Feel free to write positive reviews about [the company in question]“, if there are going to be any negative comments at all, they would rather I just didn’t write about them. So, basically she seems to be looking for some kind of “I promise to only write about you when I have something nice to say” kind of guarantee. This amazes me.

I should “feel free” to write positive reviews about this company? Well, thank you very much for giving me that permission PR Girl! I mean, I had no idea I needed your permission, but it’s sure good to have it all the same. And “if there are going to be any negative comments” I should refrain from publishing the piece? Or they’ll do what, I wonder?

What genuinely surprises me, though, is the “cut my nose of to spite my face” policy adopted by this PR. She has taken a blogger who liked her brand and who has written a large amount of positive reviews of her brand, and basically said that unless I ONLY write positive reviews from now on, I’m not “allowed” to write about them at. So, she’s taken a tame journo, who would happily have gone on sending traffic to her site forever more, and given her such a negative impression of the company that she is now feeling much less well disposed toward them. Oh, and she’s also lost them a customer.

Mishandled, mutch?