Louise Findlay-Wilson, Founder of Energy PR and PrPro
ITV’s This Morning programme was the victim of a hoax, when the supposed CEO of a celebrity sperm bank went on the show. CEO Dan Richards appeared on the sofa with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby to discuss the soon to be launched FameDaddy, the "first celebrity sperm donor service".
Looking at the company’s claims, that its bank of sample donors includes "a rock star with annual earnings of £40m and an aristocrat in the House of Lords with an income of £5-10m" and the extremely dodgy looking scientist working for the business, it is hard to understand how the story was believed by the show’s researchers. But deceived they were.
The company was featured in the programme, and subsequently covered in other media, only for it to emerge that FameDaddy was a prank by a TV production company.
While this seems like a harmless bit of fun — and in essence it is, it makes me want to share a note of caution with you.
I have come across a large number of business who, when talking about their PR, feel it is fine to be economical with the truth. They suggest using research statistics that are made up. They want us to say something has just been launched when in reality it has been around for years. They think nothing of offering ‘exclusives’ to more than one journalist.
This attitude is extremely dangerous. If you play with the truth in your PR you run the risk of alienating the media. You could find your credibility blown — and it could take years to recover. Also, as importantly, if that attitude and trivializing of the media persists it will, in my experience, percolate down to others in your organisation.
As a result PR may not be seen as the important strategic business tool it is, your company will not commit to it wholeheartedly, media calls will not be prioritised, their requests will not be responded to properly and your own media profile will suffer as a result.
So while we may laugh at FameDaddy and the foolishness of the This Morning team, remember, if you lose respect for the media, your PR and therefore your business will suffer — and that will be no laughing matter.
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