Public relations firms and professionals are always seeking to find that “edge”, the way to couch a press release and get the attention of media to press their story and/or client. Here’ where you have to be very careful in not just how you release it, but the subject matter itself. Fleishmann-Hillard is one of the more respected PR agencies anywhere, but even the best can make a major gaffe from time to time. Be careful the analogies that you use just to get attention. Don’t go overboard. And remember that once it’s out there, even an apology won’t make people forget the incident itself.
OTTAWA CITIZEN ORIGINAL LINK
‘Tackiest press release in human history’ draws ire on Twitter
The Ottawa Citizen June 1, 2012
OTTAWA — A B.C. company has found the silver-lining in the macabre murder and dismemberment case that gripped Canada this week.
Surrey-based Backcheck is a company that does criminal background checks on prospective tenants. In a press release issued Friday — the same day police identified student Lin Jun as the person whose torso was found stuffed in a suitcase in a Montreal alley and whose hand and foot were mailed to political parties in Ottawa — the company said that a proper background check would have revealed “red flags” around prime suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta.
The press release was issued Friday morning on Canada NewsWire — a wire service primarily used to deliver corporate and business news releases — by BackCheck’s PR firm, Fleishman-Hillard Communications of Vancouver. “Canadians who don’t think tenant background checks are important may think twice,” said the headline.
The release cites the Magnotta case and the shooting rampage by Angus David Mitchell, who killed two people and wounded another in B.C.’s Fraser Valley on Wednesday before he was shot and killed by the RCMP.
It quickly attracted attention online, circulating on Twitter where it was called “the tackiest press release in human history.”
The release quotes Dave Dinesen, president and chief executive of Backcheck, saying, “Getting paid the rent is only one aspect of finding a good tenant.
“A proper screening, which involves credit, criminal, employment and previous rentals, would have uncovered red flags,” Dinesen says.
Magnotta had four convictions of fraud before his Internet notoriety exploded with the Lin homicide, and had previously posted videos online that allegedly show him killing kittens. Mitchell had a history of evictions and being fired from his job, Backcheck said.
Reached Friday, Dinesen said he was aware of the Twitter backlash, but said the point remained that it’s rare for landlords to delve into the backgrounds of prospective tenants.
“I apologize if anyone thought it was in poor taste … but if I was renting out my basement, I’d want to know who I was renting it to.”
The company says it can deliver its “thorough tenant screening package” in one to three days. The cost is $89.
Dinesen conceded that he “might talk to my marketing guy,” about the timing of the release, but said the information it contained was important.
“If we can’t learn from bad events, it could happen again,” he said. “I’d rather take a slight risk in regards to tact, if it can avoid a repeat.”
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