Colby Itkowitz, national reporter for The Washington Post’s “The Loop,” wrote a story with “an eye-opening and intriguing lede for all PR lovers out there. She scribes a tale of the uber PR firm (Edelman) sending emails to “a few reporters” on behalf of a client in the federal sector looking for insights to help “refine their agency messaging.””, reports Ad Week.
The Ad Week item, in part, also stated:
“If you have acquaintances, colleagues, or even “friends” in the media, it shouldn’t be a haul to ask for said introspection. As one unnamed Edelman flack was quoted, “We are hoping to gain insight into how our messages are being received by journalists.” No worries there. In fact, it could be argued as wise.
“And then this happened. It’s what came next that delves into the more slimy stereotype of the industry:
It asked the reporters to “keep the conversation confidential” and not to “report on anything discussed in the interview.” For participating, Edelman offered to “donate $175 to a charity on your behalf.”
“Itkowitz cites Alison Knopf, editor of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, who ran into a couple of Heismans with said rep not disclosing the client on account of getting the most candid responses.
“As only a sleuth journalist would, Knopf discovered the agency was the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
“This is a very necessary federal agency, so kudos to Edelman for looking for the perfect message points. However, the way this went down doesn’t bode well with the PR ethics experts out there, much less Knopf.”