A taxing period in store at H&R Block

KANSAS CITY, MO: H&R Block's in-house media relations officers have been working round the clock to put out their explanation of a federal court ruling against the company, accusing a New York Times reporter of getting his facts wrong.

KANSAS CITY, MO: H&R Block's in-house media relations officers have been working round the clock to put out their explanation of a federal court ruling against the company, accusing a New York Times reporter of getting his facts wrong.

KANSAS CITY, MO: H&R Block's in-house media relations officers have been working round the clock to put out their explanation of a federal court ruling against the company, accusing a New York Times reporter of getting his facts wrong.

The day after the Times story, which appeared last Wednesday, three members of the company's communications team made more than 30 media calls to outlets including AP, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Three more communications officers used e-mail to supply thousands of employees with the company's stance on the issue and with statements to use with customers and media.

PR agency of record Fleishman-Hillard was not involved in the effort.

'Our main goal is to clarify with reporters the inaccuracies in The Times' story,' said Linda McDougall, VP of communications for H&R Block.

According to the Times, a federal judge ordered H&R Block to stop using the phrase 'rapid refund.' McDougall said the reporter misunderstood the judge's ruling and most of the article's contents were incorrect. She said 'rapid refund' was not an issue in the case and H&R Block was not required to stop using the phrase.

When contacted by PRWeek, the Times reporter, David Cay Johnston, said he stood by his story and cited what he said was the full court ruling stating that H&R Block was barred from using the phrase 'rapid refund.' H&R Block faxed PRWeek what McDougall explained was an executive summary written by the judge which clarified that H&R Block could use the 'rapid refund' phrase outside an advertising context and in conjunction with other programs.

McDougall said H&R Block had not contacted Johnston or The Times to request a correction. She said H&R Block's involvement with the original story was through a response statement approved by the legal department.



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