PR pro mistakenly sends derisive e-mail to columnist he insulted

CHICAGO: The disdain that Ted McDougal, Sears Holdings? VP of PR, feels for a local advertising columnist has become public knowledge after McDougal inadvertently sent a disparaging e-mail intended for a colleague to the journalist himself.

CHICAGO: The disdain that Ted McDougal, Sears Holdings? VP of PR, feels for a local advertising columnist has become public knowledge after McDougal inadvertently sent a disparaging e-mail intended for a colleague to the journalist himself.

The email referred to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lewis Lazare as "a complete waste of your time ? he has no influence whatsoever."

"For all his misinformed and simplistic slams on otherwise accomplished local executives, I wonder if he realizes he's totally irrelevant?" McDougal wrote.

After receiving the email, Lazare devoted part of his August 19 column to it. "Stupidly, one might say, McDougal forwarded his e-mail to us and then frantically tried to recall it," Lazare wrote.

The columnist said that in a subsequent conversation, McDougal blamed the mix-up on Sears' new e-mail system.

Lazare told PRWeek he wasn't surprised by the e-mail's tone. "I've not been very kind to Sears or its advertising over time," he said.

But he was taken aback by McDougal not talking directly to him about his concerns.

"I would like to see PR people, if they have issues, to put them on the table," he said. "You can't assume, even when PR people are as cordial as they seem to be, that there's not another situation going on behind the scene."

McDougal refused to comment publicly on the situation.

A source familiar with the conversation between the two said McDougal offered an apology to Lazare, saying he was embarrassed and sorry for what had happened.

Other Sears PR people have continued to honor his requests for information and previews of upcoming advertising despite the e-mail incident, Lazare said.

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