It saddens me to talk about the practices that some of the local PR agencies indulge in, however, it needs to be said.
Let me start off by saying that I’m not the kind of person that ever goes on a ranting session, however, certain things need to be brought to light. A few years back, I wrote an article on the state of PR agencies in Dubai and how unprofessional some of them can be. The good part is that many of these agencies have improved over time. On the other end, it saddens me to talk about the practices that others indulge in and I will bring one such event to light today.
Promax is the name of HP’s current PR agency. A representative from Promax called me on Sunday to invite me to an HP Editor’s event scheduled for Tuesday- covering the 2009 industry analysis, as well as what is in-store for 2010. Short notice but she asked me if I had gotten an email invitation on the event earlier. I hadn’t but that is no big deal, as I have had emails with attachments ending up in the SPAM folder. I checked my calender and conformed to her that I will be back in Dubai and available to attend the event.
On Monday, I get a call back from this person informing me that the event was being canceled- apologizing for the inconvenience. Again, no big deal as I have attended events with very low turn outs and I thought that maybe not enough Editors confirmed so HP might be calling the event off. Now imagine my surprise when, on Tuesday, I saw a tweet from a fellow colleague saying “Just got done with the HP event.”
Was I furious? Yes. I immediately called my contact at HP and after speaking to a colleague of hers, she confirmed that the event had indeed taken place. She was equally shocked at what had happened and apologized quite a few times. She said that she will escalate the matter and find out exactly what happened. I’ll let her do that but if I was HP and had this happened without me knowing about it, I would fire Promax as my agency right away.
Lying to an Editor about the cancellation of an event for whatever reasons, I would think, would be a cardinal sin for any PR agency. These are the people that help your client get exposure and going down the route that Promax did is a pretty good way of signing your own death warrant. For whatever reasons Promax did not want me attending the event, I believe that telling me the truth would have been a far better choice for their reputation and future.
UPDATE: As Expected, I received quite a few phone calls from Promax and as you know it, every story has two sides. As per Promax, there were two HP events scheduled for that day one of which I was invited to. However, the event I was supposedly invited to was postponed- I confirmed this from HP directly as well.
Where the mistake happened is that Promax sent me an invitation to the event I was not supposed to attend yet called me to inform about the cancellation of the event that I should have originally been sent the invitation for. Confusing? Yes. A bit funny as well now that I think about it.
Judging from the tone of all the people that called me from Promax today, I feel that this was a genuine mix up and not necessarily something intentional.