I've been a journalist for a long time, but today's lame PR moment was a first for me. When I arrived at work, I had both an email and a voicemail from a commercial real estate broker telling me to call him right away.
Cool, I thought. Maybe a news tip.
Ha! He was complaining about a story I wrote last week because one of the sources I quoted was his "biggest competitor."
Duh. What in the world is he talking about? Just like you readers, I had to follow this trail to find out what the problem was.
Here's the deal. I wrote about a large commercial lease deal, obtaining quotes from the developer and from the new tenant. I then got a quote from an outside source, someone who has been a trusted source for the past two years, about the current market leasing activity.
Keep in mind this story was all of 10 inches. A very quick hit.
The gentleman on the end of the phone line, however, said he should have been my third source since he actually brokered the deal. That's right. He wanted to tell me who I should quote, and since I neglected him, he wanted a printed retraction. Nevermind that the story was accurate. Just to add a little pathetic humor to the situation, he had the audacity to say, "This is the kind of news story we'd make copies of and send to clients and now I can't because you quoted my biggest competitor."
He actually thought it was my duty to aid and abet his promotional efforts.
Later I received an email from this company's long time PR consultant. She also questioned my choice of sources and wondered how she could explain this oversight to the higher ups.
I was completely befuddled. Since when are these kinds of issues my problem? And since when is someone who has been in the PR business for many years, so clueless about how a reporter puts together a story?
Ultimately she concluded that she should have been more involved in the process and that she should better educate her clients.
Fine with me. I hope she explains very pointedly that reporters aren't obligated to write about every person involved in a deal or to quote anybody specifically.
Besides, how the heck was I suppose to know that her client felt especially threatened by my outside source?
This could be fodder for a reality show/sitcom/ESP drama translated into a night time soap opera.
Desperate housewives, step aside and make way for desperate real estate brokers. Never before have so many tears been shed over martinis at the Capital Grill.