Last Call: When explosive promotions backfire

Trench warfare is just part of the territory in PR war rooms, where discarded pitches are as thick on the ground as rats on the Somme. Thus, can we possibly blame shell shock for this recent promotion?

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, a local law firm was persuaded by its PR consultant to send out paperweights that resembled rather too-realistic hand grenades. The bomb experts were called in to defuse the situation.

The news story brought back explosive memories for Craig Settles, president of PR firm, whose own agency once experimented with artillery as PR freebie.

In 1989, his firm sent out bullet shells sealed in evidence bags to more than a dozen magazine editors, with cards reading 'Who's been shooting X magazine readers in the foot?'

Panic ensued. One magazine called the bomb squad, another called the FBI and one flew its chief of security to New Hampshire to investigate.

Settles understands why the faux grenades might have seemed like a good idea. 'Unfortunately, when you actually send the thing out it has a more ominous look to it,' he said.

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