About this article

Read time:

4 minutes

Category:

Uncategorized

PR nightmares

Halloween is just around the corner, and as seasoned storytellers, we thought what better way to mark the occasion than to share our scary stories – although probably not the sort you’re used to. 

Do you want to know what really keeps us PR people up at night? Nothing chills us to the bone quite like reminiscing about serious PR mishaps – whether those of our own or the more infamous disasters that go down in history as ‘what not to do’ examples in the PR playbook.

I asked my colleagues at Skout to share the cringe-inducing scary stories from their careers in PR to date, and they did not disappoint! In fact, we probably got enough to produce a (very long, very sad) book. So, while I’m in the process of writing that highly anticipated thriller to profit off their misfortunes, here are the high(low?) lights, grouped by the overarching lessons learnt.

Don’t do creativity for creativity’s sake

  • Possibly the worst idea ever involved me having to sit in a bath of Vimto pretending to be engaged to a colleague for a valentine’s story! You see, B2B ain’t that bad!”
  • “We decided to pitch to a major email and internet provider as if we were auditioning for a talent show programme. No one laughed or got it – it went down like a lead balloon. We didn’t win it. But that wasn’t as bad as the time we thought it would be a good idea to ‘fake’ kidnap a prospect and drive them around London (they were in security). We didn’t win that one either.”

Remain professional through new business pitches at all times

  • “We turned up for a pitch only to discover we’d got the wrong office. We lost it.”
  • “I was in a really long repitch once and it was quite clear we were only there to make up the numbers. The people we were pitching to were clearly bored and not interested and one even walked out of the room mid-way through my presentation!”
  • “The prospects started arguing among themselves after calling one of my ideas ‘less Ferrari, more Robin Reliant’.”

Make sure your talent is briefed thoroughly

  • “I was working on a launch to take place in Covent Garden in London for my glass recycling association client. The client arranged the delivery of the glass recycling banks but we had to arrange the glass to use as part of the photoshoot. Two of us travelled down to London on the train with four bin bags full of empty glass bottles. We were met at Covent Garden by our celebrity, a well-known wine critic at the time. She then promptly refused to sit on top of the glass recycling banks.”
  • “I once had to almost rugby tackle a Good Morning Britain television presenter back in the 90s when she very nearly destroyed a gold monopoly board worth over quarter of a million pounds – clearly hadn’t listened to me saying not to throw the dice because the diamonds would scratch the gold!”

Some clients are nicer than others

  • “One time my client insisted on drinking carrot juice before a face-to-face briefing with a journalist and had an orange moustache for the entire session.”
  • “I had to brief a client’s CEO over from the US for media briefings while standing at a urinal – ‘walk with me – I need to take a….’”
  • “I was scapegoated by a client who wanted to wriggle out of their contract. Their entire management team of 10 came to our offices with the intention of holding me personally accountable to poor results.”
  • “Once I took a client to Euston meet a journalist. The journalist had clearly had a rough night and looked as if he’d crawled out from under a bush. The client asked me if he was homeless.”
  • I had to follow up the ‘best PR idea ever’ which gave the client £000,000s of coverage. Unsurprisingly the next idea was a total flop in comparison.”
  • “A very famous CEO got off the plane from California and was driven to his hotel in central London, where he walked in, took a look at the lobby and turned around and walked out again because he didn’t like it. Cue me trying to find another hotel room in three minutes flat.”
  • “My client fell asleep in a press briefing with tier one journalists. She was really jet lagged having just flown in. Nobody should have booked those meetings for her in the first place. I ended up coughing really loudly to try and wake her up!”

Enjoying our blogs?

We can deliver a monthly round-up straight to your inbox

Take note of key dates, disasters and national holidays

  • “I had to organise a media event in London on the same day as a tube strike – the client wouldn’t let me cancel it.”
  • “I had to do a client launch the day after Princess Diana died because the client wouldn’t let us cancel.”

And finally, don’t make an exhibition of yourself

  • “The last day of my PR placement was the company’s AGM and it was my job to have a new exhibition stand ready for the company reception. It was last minute and I had to book out an estate car from the car pool to pick up the exhibition materials from Liverpool. This was before the days of lightweight pop-up stands – they were all thick MDF panels all professionally designed and ready. On the way back, the boot opened on a dual carriageway and they all slid out. Then a transit van ran over them! I had to pull over and run into the road to grab the boards before they were completely ruined. In the end the boards did get used – complete with tyre marks!”

About this article

Read time:

4 minutes

Category:

Uncategorized

Skout’s 2024 Annual Offsite: Glitz, glamour and mystery

Why is tech news only happy when it rains?

Browse more blog posts

Posted on
byHonor Williamson
In the world of B2B PR, breaking away from the day-to-day routine can bring fresh perspectives and a change of pace to the work we do here at Skout. So, for our eagerly anticipated annual business offsite last week, Skout traded the office walls for the grand fortress of Peckforton Castle, in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.   The grounds...
Posted on
byJack Doyle
Has the conversation around tech always been so negative? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that every second headline I read about tech today is just doom and gloom. The excitement around AI has been drowned out by the fear of it. “Is it going to steal my job?” “Is it going to destroy the education system?” “Is it...
Posted on
byJames Bentley
The world in that we live is unpredictable, to say the least. Businesses, organisations and even individuals are all vulnerable to issues which may lurk in the shadows or around corners. Some of these crises are natural while some are very definitely man-made, but they can strike at any time and with them put reputations and livelihoods on the line....
Posted on
byLee Simpson
Priority Consultants share further insights into the media landscape in India, from the booming print media, to regional trade publications. Mitabh, last time we spoke about the Indian tech sector and areas which you’re seeing high growth in currently. But thinking more about the work you do for your tech clients. What do you see as some of the key...
Posted on
byLee Simpson
Meeting PR agencies from different regions around the world is something we are always keen to explore. Whether that’s to work in partnership with one another, or simply to understand and learn more about their region. We recently spoke to Mitabh Saud, director of India Operations at Priority Consultants about why India’s tech sector is booming, and what the future...
Posted on
byJames Weaver
In today’s fast-paced and consistently evolving world of technology, innovation is key to stay ahead of the competition. While breakthrough products and next-generation solutions are fundamentally crucial, the importance of public relations (PR) for the tech industry should not be underestimated. Here, we explore the reasons why tech companies, both innovative start-ups or big tech, need PR and how it...
Posted on
byJames Weaver
Since the dawn of the 21st century, the tech industry has surged and evolved through countless groundbreaking innovations. But in the ongoing pursuit of digital transformation, layoffs in the sector have become an unwelcome trend. We saw it in the aftermath of the pandemic with the industry increasing its layoffs by 649% in 2022, which is the highest since the...
Posted on
byJames Bentley
Things change quickly in the world of B2B marketing, so it’s vital to be ahead of the curve. 2024 will bring with it new challenges and opportunities, so here are five incredible B2B marketing strategies which can make a significant impact for your business this year.  1. Personalised content marketing  Identifying and then producing content for specific target audiences has...
Posted on
bySkout team
Why was Operations your chosen career? I realised that Business Operations and Finance is the ideal path for me as I’ve always been passionate about finance and business, and I really love problem-solving. I love the challenging nature of the role and it is incredibly satisfying for my numerical mind to tackle challenges and turn them into opportunities for growth....
Posted on
byRebecca Brown
There is no denying that Josh Cole Bolland is an early starter. He started working as a freelance photographer and graphic designer aged just 16 and lived the dream, working with bands and musicians. He opened his own photographic studio just two years later and gradually integrated graphic design and video into the mix before he was joined in the...

Send us a message

Download The B2B business relationship report

The B2B relationship renaissance – did digital kill it? The importance of relationships throughout the customer buying journey. Please complete the form below and receive a download link via email.