Tired of PR scapegoating, RLM sues non-profit group

NEW YORK: Claiming it is ’tired of PR firms being used as scapegoats,’ RLM Public Relations has taken a former client to arbitration for dollars 10,500 in unpaid fees and expenses.

NEW YORK: Claiming it is ’tired of PR firms being used as scapegoats,’ RLM Public Relations has taken a former client to arbitration for dollars 10,500 in unpaid fees and expenses.

NEW YORK: Claiming it is ’tired of PR firms being used as

scapegoats,’ RLM Public Relations has taken a former client to

arbitration for dollars 10,500 in unpaid fees and expenses.



MOUSE, a Manhattan-based non-profit group that helps New York City

public schools bridge the digital divide, canceled its PR contract with

RLM on April 27, one month before it could have walked away without

penalty.



MOUSE was paying dollars 9,000 per month, one-third of the agency’s

normal fee.



Jonathan Herzog, a lawyer representing RLM, said the case is clear-cut:

’It was a one-year term contract, starting January 27. There was a

window from May 16 to May 31 in which either party could back out. MOUSE

breached the terms of the contract.’



According to Herzog, MOUSE executive director Sarah Holloway canceled

the contract on April 27, claiming MOUSE wanted to work with a firm with

more non-profit experience. Non-profits on RLM’s roster include City

Family magazine, and the NY-based Community Health Center.



Calls to MOUSE were not returned, and its new PR rep, George Shea of

Shea Communications, said his client ’did not want to address this issue

any further.’



But MOUSE was not shy about drumming up press over Memorial Day

weekend.



The story was leaked to the Silicon Alley Reporter, where MOUSE chairman

Joanne Wilson once served as advertising director. The SAR is also a

corporate sponsor of MOUSE, according to its Web site.



In an e-mail obtained by PRWeek, sent one day before the SAR story ran,

Wilson told RLM CEO Richard Laermer that MOUSE canceled the contract

because of substandard service. Wilson added that unless RLM dropped its

arbitration claim, ’I will leak this to the press ... I would suggest

that your other clients or potential clients would not be interested in

RLM suing a non-profit such as MOUSE.’



’I found it more humorous than anything else,’ Herzog said of the

e-mail.



Laermer was less diplomatic: ’It was blackmail.’



Connie Connors of NY-based Connors Communications said no one will come

out of these contretemps looking good. ’Let’s not air our dirty

laundry,’ she said. ’It devalues the PR profession.’ She added that

after getting stiffed by a few clients, she has gotten more serious

about demanding payment up front.



RLM is also seeking unpaid fees from two other former clients, RU4 and

online jewelry retailer Bodyflash.



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