In a bid for more subscribers through a national e-mail blast on Wednesday, PR News touted its expert opinions on communications and crisis management, among other things, through what a Wichita State University spokesman called a cheap shot at the Shockers.
The public relations group now needs a little crisis management of its own.
The e-mail, which was about how to score big in the business, has a subject line that said, Dont be like Wichita State.
Really? Thats the approach youre going to take to generate business? asked WSU spokesman Joe Kleinsasser. Its just a marketing attempt gone awry.
Is it the end of the world? No. But its unfortunate.
His day began with a couple of e-mails from his counterparts at Wake Forest University and Princeton University alerting him to the slam against the school and its beloved Shocker mens basketball team.
And, yes, I am unsubscribing from their distribution list, one said after saying how much the slam annoyed him.
Its a sentiment others locally and nationally are echoing.
We think this approach is mean-spirited and beneath contempt, Barth Hague, WSUs associate vice president for university relations and chief marketing officer, wrote in an e-mail to PR News about the reference to the Shockers heartbreaking loss Sunday to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
Whoever is responsible for writing it is reflecting your organization in a very poor light. Weve received multiple e-mails from peers around the country who saw it and were unhappy about it. Several of them said they unsubscribed from your distribution list because of it, Hague wrote.
He added, We request a full and formal apology.
Hague received a response from PR News, though the organizations vice president for marketing, Amy Jefferies, didnt respond to him by the correct name.
Hi Beth I am truly sorry for this oversight on our part and any stress this has caused you. A very important lesson has been learned by my team for future promotions.
She added, Are there any PR News products I can offer you and your team free of charge Guidebooks, a PR News subscription or conference attendance?
Without correcting her mistake with his name, Hague thanked Jefferies for her note and the offer of freebies and replied that at this stage, having just been insulted by your organization, free products are not something were interested in.
He also suggested what he thought would be an appropriate apology to be sent to the same e-mail group that received the Shockers slam but has not received a response.
Nor has PR News responded to a request for comment from The Eagle.
However, the Wichita PR community had a lot to say about the slam via a series of e-mails, texts and conversations.
I thought I was getting PR punked! wrote a livid Katie Grover of Fidelity Bank.
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Angie Prather wrote: Since its highly unlikely that any PR professional would ever deliberately choose to insult an entire nation (ShockerNation), Im assuming that they actually intended to use this campaign: BE LIKE WICHITA STATE.
PR News is a product of that Eastern Establishment that cant quite grasp that anything worth happening doesnt make it past the Hudson River, wrote Al Higdon, co-founder of Sullivan, Higdon & Sink. Their dismissal of the fact that Wichita States achievement is totally unique in the history of college basketball is not at all consistent with what quality PR practitioners inherently know: Before opening mouth, figuratively or otherwise, its best to do your homework and have an insightful grasp of the issue at hand. In this case, PR News is one and done.
Tammy Allen of Allen, Gibbs & Houlik wrote a restrained note to PR News while canceling her subscription.
I was so mad when I was writing the e-mail that I was shaking, she said.
Carol Skaff of Cohlmia Marketing asked, Whats wrong with these people? Its puzzling how a so-called communication organization could be so obviously tone-deaf not only about its constituents but about its own purpose for being, which is to create positive relationships with constituents, not drive them away.
Greteman Groups Deanna Harms wrote that shes sorry PR News resorted to such a ploy and is sorry to see it used by a professional publication that promotes best practices and high ethics.
I hope to be like Wichita State. To walk away with head high regardless of a games outcome.
Teresa Veazey, president of the Kansas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, said PR News calls itself a daily intellectual hub.
Maybe the way they want to teach us or help us learn is to create their own PR crisis to manage.
She said shes disappointed in the lesson, though.
Im disappointed, and Im embarrassed that this kind of a situation comes from a PR organization, Veazey said. PR News is supposed to teach us how to do our jobs better.
Are they going to learn from their own mistake?