PRWeek reported last week that Soho-based The Drum Consultancy had offered to pay off journalist Emma Lunn after it admitted using a piece she had written for The Telegraph as the basis of a press release and then reattributing the quotes in it to its client.
Now Emma Ward Hunt, managing director of Foundation PR, claims The Drum Consultancy also borrowed heavily from a press release it put out about pet licences in the rental sector on behalf of its client, the estate agent W A Ellis, in August 2013.
In Foundation’s press release, dated 19 August, the company quoted its client Lucy Morton of W A Ellis, who said: "We are surprised by the amount of pet licence addendums we have made to our tenancy agreements recently, and believe it’s due to several factors – an increase in dog ownership, the UK’s relaxed quarantine laws which came into effect early last year, and also the fact that some dog breeds have become a fashion accessory – especially in London, where it’s not uncommon to see a teacup pooch perched in a ‘pet taxi’ designer handbag."
The press release then went on to cite research that suggested one in three pet owners struggled to find homes for up to a year.
Click the image below to see the full release
Subsequently a story by the website Property Reporter, on 18 September 2013, followed a similar line to Foundation’s press release and cited the same piece of research.
The story went on to use an almost identical quote, which was attributed to The Drum Consultancy’s client Pat Barber, chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Foundation PR said it was unhappy that The Drum Consultancy appeared to have used its work and decided to come forward after seeing PRWeek’s story last week.
Ward Hunt said: "It certainly seems like plagiarism. Those quotes were put together on behalf of our client and they have taken it almost word for word and used it for their own client.
"It’s wrong because that was our own hard work which we spent hours writing and putting out and they seem to have copied and pasted it and passed it off as their own. It undermines the whole PR industry and does none of us any favours."
Ward Hunt said she was astonished to read last week how Karen Hughes, managing director of The Drum Consultancy, had responded to Lunn when the journalist confronted her about using her work.
"I can’t believe how nonchalant she was. If that had been me, I would have been mortified but she showed no remorse."
Hughes declined to comment on the fresh allegation but offered a "general commentary" on the issues raised by Foundation PR.
Hughes said: "On a number of occasions we have seen commentary from AIIC and other clients used by other brands in their press releases with no credit/source detailed."