Client’s counterfeit biography hurls Horn Group into the headlines

SAN FRANCISCO: Pitching a CEO’s credentials in a rags-to-riches tale is a tried-and-true PR tactic. But what if a client’s head honcho lied on his resume, approved a press-kit bio constructed around these falsehoods, then turned around and pinned the blame on the PR firm when the media uncovered the truth?

SAN FRANCISCO: Pitching a CEO’s credentials in a rags-to-riches tale is a tried-and-true PR tactic. But what if a client’s head honcho lied on his resume, approved a press-kit bio constructed around these falsehoods, then turned around and pinned the blame on the PR firm when the media uncovered the truth?

SAN FRANCISCO: Pitching a CEO’s credentials in a rags-to-riches

tale is a tried-and-true PR tactic. But what if a client’s head honcho

lied on his resume, approved a press-kit bio constructed around these

falsehoods, then turned around and pinned the blame on the PR firm when

the media uncovered the truth?



That’s exactly what happened to The Horn Group, which found itself in

Bay Area headlines last week when the CEO of client Luna Information

Systems tried to finger them for circulating ’An Entrepreneur’s Story’

- press materials containing exaggerated and unfounded claims about his

background and education.



The San Francisco Chronicle revealed that Luna CEO Farid Khoujinian,

who has since resigned, did not graduate from college or earn

graduate-level degrees from Harvard and Columbia. He also never played

a single season of professional soccer, contrary to his claim that he

played for eight years.



According to the Chronicle account, Khoujinian ’blamed the mistake on

Luna’s public relations firm, The Horn Group.’ He also blamed the

agency for falsely reporting that he had worked for Bell Labs for two

years.



While Horn Group reps initially declined comment, the firm issued a

statement last Tuesday refuting Khoujinian’s accusations. And principal

Sabrina Horn told PRWeek that Khoujinian’s official bio was created

with information provided and approved by him.



Luna marketing director Jennifer Cobb confirmed that Khoujinian ’read

and approved the profile that The Horn Group wrote based on a personal

interview with him.’



Horn pointed out that it has never been her firm’s policy to fact-check

a client’s resume. ’We operate on the assumption that a client is being

honest and forthright with us,’ she said.



FitzGerald Communications’ VP Fred Bateman supported Horn’s

actions.



’We have to trust that the personal information the CEO is sharing with

us is accurate,’ he said. ’I think most CEOs would be insulted if they

discovered that their PR firm was trying to verify their past

credentials.’



Horn said she has not decided whether to resign the Luna account.



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