DIARY: Belgians pay for refusing to waffle

Just because you hire a PR agency doesn’t mean you actually have to listen to its advice.

Just because you hire a PR agency doesn’t mean you actually have to listen to its advice.

Just because you hire a PR agency doesn’t mean you actually have to

listen to its advice.



That seems to be the message stemming from a recent conflict involving a

hi-tech PR agency (which, in a fit of typical industry paranoia, asked

that we not reveal its name) and a new client owned by a Belgian

company.



The firm was attempting to put together a news release that would be

attributed to the client’s Belgian principal. The company, however,

insisted that after an individual’s name, the number 28 should appear in

parentheses.



In Belgium, apparently, it is customary that when people share the same

name, the way to distinguish them is by inserting the year of birth in

parentheses after the name. No matter how hard the PR firm argued that

this practice would distract American journalists from the story, the

client insisted.



As always, the client won out. And just as predictably, subsequent media

calls ignored the substance of the release in favor of questions about

the ’28.’ Hey, you get what you pay for.



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