Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Do PR agencies really think it’s a good idea to send reporters gifts?

with 2 comments

From a letter sent this week to a member of my Reuters Health staff:

Let’s face it. News is often a stressful business that can literally leave you in pain. The hours spent racing deadlines while hunkered over your desk definitely take their toll.

To help you usher in 2012 with a little less pain, DISC Sports & Spine Center (DISC) has two gifts for our media colleagues:

1. The Brookstone Orthopedic Back Cushion, a pressure-relieving memory foam pillow designed to provide soothing lower back relief whether you’re on the job, in the car or at home…

And there, in the box containing the letter, was the cushion. I couldn’t find the exact cushion on Brookstone.com, but here’s something very similar that retails for $40.

Someone, it appears, hadn’t read my post on what not to do in a PR campaign. Granted, this wasn’t $400 in gift cards and electronics, but still, it’s not a product sample for review. (The second gift was an expert list, which is a perfectly good thing to send reporters.)

So I emailed the person who’d sent the letter, Kristien Brada-Thompson of Priority PR, and told her we couldn’t accept the cushion, thanks to reasonable Reuters policy (and good journalistic practice). Was this something she did often?

No, not something we’ve done regularly…a first time in conjunction with the holidays. I understand if you need to return it and apologize for any inconvenience.

I appreciate the quick response, but I hope this is the last time Priority PR tries this sort of thing. At the very least, should a clinical practice really be passing onto patients the cost of $40 times however many reporters got this?


Written by Ivan Oransky

December 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Another bad practice: PR firms making a donation in someone’s name to an organization, no matter how noble its goals might be. It’s a variation on this theme.

    Scott Hensley

    December 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

  2. I was only offered a gift once while at Reuters (I declined it, of course). It’s been kind of shocking to see how common PR gifts are at consumer magazines, and how high the value is for some of them.


    December 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

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