Companies keep quiet, suspend releases

NEW YORK: Media relations executives struggled last week with the

ethics of pitching non-disaster-related stories to a media industry

consumed by the biggest news story of a lifetime.

Many PR execs phoned their agencies for help in trying to decide whether

to continue issuing releases about their new products and events. Most

cancelled plans, including The New York Times' widely anticipated Arts &

Leisure Weekend, scheduled for September 14-16.

Burson-Marsteller's Peter Himler, MD of the corporate financial

practice, said, "Anyone who does media relations knows that the news

hole is very thin indeed. It would be foolish to be putting out stories.

It would be in poor taste."

Newswire service North American Network e-mailed its clients after the

attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, stating that it

would suspend phone-based media relations. It is continuing to issue

releases via fax, e-mail, and the internet. Communications director Joe

Balintfy said, "We've been exchanging opinions about when (newsrooms)

will be pitchable.

It could be days, weeks - maybe even years."

Hill & Knowlton also made the decision not to issue releases.

Business Wire's COO Cathy Baron Tamraz reported that several companies

called to pull or suspend releases issued mid-week.

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