Really, Really (No, Really) Bad PR Decisions

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A story beyond Flatland but ticklish on several levels, Steve Johnson’s Trib Hypertext column today highlights a growing battle between a small Maine blogger, the Maine Web Report, and a boutique New York advertising firm, Warren Kremer Paino, that this week launched a federal lawsuit against the blog’s author.

The beef? The blog author has been critical of a Maine tourism Internet ad campaign led by none other than WKP. So WKP is claiming libel–on the grounds that when you Google WKP, Maine Web Report shows up on the same page. In other words, the ad firm is suing the blog because too many people — for WKP’s comfort anyway — want to hear what the blog has to say. Any other PR folks out there shaking their heads yet?

While you ponder the level of out- of- touch- with- the- modern- worldness that such reasoning points to, ponder something even tastier. The lawsuit and the outrage it’s provoking on the blogosphere are receiving full-court national printed and blog press. Think Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, PBS, Instapundit, Media Bloggers Association. For that matter, think pro bono representation from legal heavyweight Greenberg Traurig while you’re at it.

So, of course, now when you google Warren Kremer Paino, you get page after page of coverage of the lawsuit.

I suppose any coverage is good coverage, so congratulations to Warren Kremer Paino on achieving full-court (and still growing) national press.

However, if I were them, I’d outsource on the work it’s going to take to get their current and potential clients to believe that they still have any public-relations sense left whatsoever.

Perhaps some small advice would be helpful: getting coverage like this is better achieved in a manner that makes your agency look… hmm… intelligent? Experienced? Savvy? Awake? And keeping your foot out of your mouth is of great help, too.

Really, really bad business decisions like this simply can’t be made up, folks. They have to be witnessed and savored in action. They’re so awful, they’re good. It’s like a cult thing.

If I were WKP I’d ride the wave and claim retroactive responsibility for New Coke, too.

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What do you think?