“Flacking” Up Again

“PR flack touts Amy Adams’ bag at Philip Seymour Hoffman wake.”
“Shameless PR person promotes Amy Adams’ bag at Philip Seymour Hoffman wake.”
“Tacky PR agency announces that Amy Adams carried Valentino to PHS wake.”

Uh-oh. Sounds like another “flack” has crossed the ethics line again.

An apparently unknowing public relations practitioner had promoted actress Amy Adams’ bag who had arrived for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wake. Adams was using the purse of a client on whom the public relations company represented, and thus milked the appearance for all it was worth, without doing that useful thing called fact-checking.
The press release said: “We are pleased to announce Amy Adams carrying the Valentino Garavani Rockstud Duble bag from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection on Feb. 6 in New York.”

Was Upasna Khosla, the PR executive, lacking of a heart that day and decided to promote the Valentino bag despite why Adams was out? Or did she simply make a mistake, completely oblivious to the black clothing and somber expression on the actress’ face in the picture?

Either way, these news outlets and blogs have given the Valentino bag that the PR company was trying to promote even more publicity. Although it is in a bad light, the bag and its company is still getting awareness and acknowledgment from the public.

Eventually on Friday, the company expressed their apologies:

“We sincerely regret releasing a photo to the media this morning of Amy Adams with a Valentino bag. We were not aware the photography was taken while she was attending the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was an innocent mistake, and we apologize to Ms. Adams who was not aware, or a part of, our PR efforts.”

To me, these journalists do not know what objectivity means. Using words like “tacky” and “shameless”, although truthful IF that PR company had prior knowledge of the wake, are not words of indifference. The symbiotic relationship between PR folk and journalists wear thin in this tale, and is a classic example of how the two entities clash.

All right, now I am done with being devil’s advocate.

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Source: New York Daily News

It is pretty negligent and ignorant to just assume this PR company had no idea about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wake. In all honesty, this company probably did know and went ahead with their promotion anyway, just to get more bang for their buck.

Yes, they got some publicity with their dull-looking handbags. But at what cost?
The actress is furious that she was promoted in this way , the public is upset at how tasteless the promotion was and the company is groveling at everyone’s feet stating that they had no idea.

Sometimes, as much as I fight for public relations and how we are not “flacks”, this money-hungry business still happens. It is important to remember though that a whole entity such as the profession of public relations should not be negatively seen just because of one bad rat. These types of companies do no good for our profession.

Time will tell how this story will play out. Oh wait, we already know. People are gonna get fired, and the company is going to have a real hard time trying to get out of this one.

UPDATE: To make things even better (but worse), I stumbled across the New York Daily News’ cover for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death on my fellow classmates’ blog post. Who is being shameless now?

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