A cautionary tale about events management has winged its way from
Oracle’s recent annual European User Group conference in Amsterdam.
Managed by Hill and Knowlton, the computer software firm’s PR co-ordinator in Europe, the conference was supposed to be a showcase for
Oracle’s achievements in sales and product development.
Unfortunately the company omitted to mention that it had axed Loek van
den Boog, its senior vice-president for Europe hours before the
conference began. The next day van den Boog’s scheduled speech was
mysteriously canned and his name omitted from the agenda.
Matters were not helped much when van den Boog himself turned up to the
conference and began chatting to journalists who were all too eager to
listen to what he had to say about his dismissal.
‘Hill and Knowlton didn’t realise that UK hacks are a bit bloody
minded,’ says one of the journalists present.
A public relations blunder? Bad communications between the client and
its agency? A poor understanding of journalists? Call it what you like,
but the moral of the story must be to check everyone’s pass before they
are admitted to an event.