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Arment Dietrich

Shameful PR

By: Arment Dietrich | April 22, 2007 | 
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I’m going to piggyback on the Bad Pitch Blog, which blasted a company called USNetCom this week.  The company used the tragedy at Virginia Tech to promote a product that assists in quickly dispersing information to people via cell phones and land lines.  I won’t go too much into it because I don’t want to give their spin any more credit than what’s already been mentioned.

I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to exploit the murder of 32 innocents into a PR pitch, but it’s despicable.  I can’t begin to imagine the meeting that must have taken place to discuss this.  Were they giddy at the opportunity to promote their product?   What kind of dialogue and debate transpired?   How can they possibly justify using the words of Virginia Tech students in their news release?

This is why PR has such a poor reputation.  It’s this type of self-serving drivel that makes us struggle for legitimacy in the eyes of the media and the public.  It is shameful for anyone to try and capitalize on an event like this.  It reminds me of the vendors selling memorabilia at Ground Zero.

While the nation struggles to come to grips with the awful events in Blacksburg – which could have happened at any time at any university – there is a chance for PR professionals to ask, “What is news?  Are we adding something to the dialogue?”  In this case, the answer is an unequivocal no.

Look, most PR people look for news to latch on to.  In this case it was inappropriate and reprehensible. – Alex Parker

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