Gus Sentementes, a reporter with The Sun in Baltimore, received an unusual request from a PR person who wanted a “100 percent guarantee” that Gus would write a story before he would be granted access to the company. No chance to judge its newsworthiness, no opportunity to see if they had anything interesting to say/show, not to mention what Gus’s editor would decide. Promise you’ll write a story first, and then you can sit down with the company reps. Otherwise it’s a waste of time!
Gus was likely as surprised as we were, and sent out a tweet to see what PR people who follow him on Twitter thought.
I tweeted that the PR person was either clueless about the media or did not have the ability to counsel his/her management team about what a bad idea it is, and that it will have negative repercussions for the company/brand down the road.
Gus confirmed in a subsequent post:
“I meet a lot of people and I have a long memory. Just b/c I don’t write about u now doesn’t mean I won’t in the future.”
Later, Gus tweeted how he responded:
“I said making a guarantee would be unethical and unrealistic. I haven’t heard back.”
If any PR people out there have ever requested a coverage guarantee, we’d love to hear your point of view. Has it ever worked? Maybe we can all learn something.