October 12, 2010 | life

The Tale of PR and The Blogger

Yesterday, I told you about my half marathon journey. Today, it’s time to tell you about what went on behind the scenes. I was initially approached by PR company, Mission, to run the half marathon and blog about it on behalf of their client, Nokia. I was told I would get certain things in return for that. I got absolutely nothing.

I wrote a letter of complaint to Mission last week and they have called me to apologise, but as that was done three days before the race, it was sadly, too little, too late. The decision to publish this letter was not an easy one. My aim is not to get anyone at Mission in trouble, purely to highlight the massive disparity that currently goes on between large companies who claim to specialise in social media platforms and the way they actually treat bloggers.

Myself and others in the blogging community put huge amounts of time and effort into what we do. Publishing this letter may very well be career suicide but I feel I owe it to bloggers to publish this and hopefully, other companies can learn from it and take what we do seriously.

Dear Mission,

It is with regret that I’m writing a letter of complaint to you, but unfortunately I feel as though I’ve been left no other choice.

Back on May 21st, you contacted me to see if I would lend my voice to a campaign you were working on with Nokia – The Nokia Outdoor Series. It sounded interesting, like a challenge and I was very excited to be involved. I was told I could pick one of the events Nokia was having and blog about my preparation for it. I chose to participate in the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon and fully committed to the project.

For lending my voice to this campaign, I was told, to quote your email “Part of the project entails training with Olympic athletes, interviewing them, free sports kits, a platform on the Nokia Outdoor Series website (which can be linked back to your own site to increase your hits) and many more.” I was also told I would hopefully receive a Nokia phone to film my training sessions and my travel and accommodation would be paid for when I was to train with an olympic athlete and go down to London for the race itself.

I’m disappointed to report that over the past four months, as I trained very hard for this half marathon, devoting huge amounts of my time, energy and money, none of the things promised to me have been delivered. Very early on I was told that Nokia had decided not to do the sports kits. I made two video blogs, neither of which  ever appeared on the Nokia Outdoor Series site and I was given no explanation for this other than Nokia couldn’t get their act together/were impossible to get hold of.

I was offered a training session with an olympic athlete, but was only given six days notice and couldn’t get away from work in time. I was sent a phone, which I was told I will have to send back when all is said and done.

Throughout all of this, I had to constantly contact you guys at Mission to find out what was going on. No one dealing with this project seemed to make an effort to touch base with me regularly. When I did get in touch with you, the standard response was that you were waiting to hear back from Nokia and would get back to me in a few days. You rarely did.

Through all this, I remained committed to what I said I’d do. I have a very loyal blog and Twitter following and they have been supporting and encouraging me as I blogged and tweeted my way through my training program, lost a stone in weight, became more committed to fitness than I’ve ever been. I spoke about this so much at least two people that I know of have signed up to do the half marathon, one of whom is doing it for charity and has raised a significant sum. I’ve been emailed by countless others who’ve told me how I’ve inspired them to start a new fitness regime, lose weight or commit to a healthier lifestyle.

The half marathon is this Sunday (October 10th). I emailed you on September 20th, after not hearing from you for well over six weeks, to ask what was happening on the day of the race. I was yet to receive a race pack or any information about it (when I know that those things had been sent to race participants weeks prior). I was given the standard response that you’d check with Nokia and get back to me by Friday (September 25th). Friday came and went. I emailed again on Wednesday September 29th (now just 11 days before the race) to again ask what was going on. I had no idea if I even had a place on the race. I relayed that I was now rather anxious, given the amount of time and effort I’ve put into this and the fact that I’m all over the internet saying I’m doing it – now it looked likely that I could show up and be told I don’t have a place and can’t run. Again, you told me you’d double check with Nokia and get back to me on Friday. On Friday you emailed to tell me a colleague would book my train ticket for me on Monday and that you were still finalising my place on the half marathon. So, after initially approaching me about this half marathon back on May 21st, my place is still being ‘finalised’ 9 days before? What on earth is going on?!

You asked me to send my preferred train times as you would cover the cost of my ticket. I asked if my accommodation was to be covered also, as agreed at the beginning of this venture and was told there was no longer the budget for accommodation. So yet more money had to come out of my pocket.

Frustrated with the mishandling of the situation and unsure whether I had a place on the marathon or not, I contacted The Royal Parks Foundation (who are in charge of it) directly, explained the situation and asked if there was any way they could sort it for me. Within 24 hours, they got back to me with confirmation that they had secured me a special last minute place on the race. In 24 hours they did what Mission has had four months to do.

Needless to say, I never heard from your colleague on Monday about the train ticket. I called you on Tuesday to ask if it was being booked and was told it’d be better if I booked it myself and send you guys the receipt – so yet again, more money comes out of my pocket (don’t worry, I won’t be holding my breath for Mission to reimburse me).

Yesterday (Wednesday October 6th) you called me to say you’re still sorting out my place for the half marathon. Four days before the race! Unbelievable! I told you I’d sorted it myself as it was clear that nobody there was doing anything.

I apologise for the tone of this email but I am just really quite astounded at the poor handling of this situation. I don’t blame the individuals handling the account. Nokia very well may have been impossible to deal with – but explanations should have been given every step of the way. Considering you’re in the business of communication, there was remarkably little of it taking place. I’m a reasonable person and I don’t expect the earth, but I do expect what has been promised to me to be delivered and where it can’t be, I’d just like a reasonable explanation as to why.

It’s not as if I was given a product and asked to write a review on it. You asked me to do a half marathon! I trained for four months! I had a personal trainer, I was getting up at 5.30am to go running, I have literally exhausted myself with my efforts. My side of this bargain has been well and truly fulfilled. I have raised awareness of this half marathon and people have signed up to it as a result of the coverage I have given to my own preparation. And yet, I have received absolutely nothing in return for it. Does that seem fair to you?

It appears that Mission don’t have an understanding or appreciation for bloggers or social media. I may just be a small fish to you, but I am a client and should have been treated as such. I imagine if I was a Guardian journalist covering this event, I’d have everything that was promised and five star accommodation for the race.

I am sorry I had to write this letter. I was genuinely excited about the project and am hugely disappointed with how it’s been handled. I sincerely hope this is not how Mission ordinarily conducts itself in the blogging and social media world.

Yours Sincerely,

Muireann Carey-Campbell

My hope in publishing this is that we can at least start a conversation. Social Media is exploding and it’s hard to adapt and keep up. Perhaps this will go some small way towards a dialogue that enables us all to work better together and avoid things like this happening in the future.

(In the interest of full disclosure here, when someone from Mission called to apologise to me, twenty minutes after I sent this email last week, they told me I could keep the Nokia phone that had been sent to me. So…there’s that.)

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171 Comments

Tiff

Beutifully written & presented babes… You can do no more than get your side across…. The result of which can only be positive I’m sure!!

*applause

Xxxxx

Claire Nelson

I am so proud of you for writing this letter, and moreso for you publishing it here. I was appalled when I found out what had been going on (or NOT going on, as the case may be) and am so glad that the Royal Parks managed to sort it for you.

I totally agree that there are companies building “Social Media departments” and paying people a lot of money who, at the end of the day, seem to have little understanding of a) how social media actually works, and b) the power of the blogger. We are a representational voice, and promising the world when you ACTUALLY don’t know if you can promise it is a gamble, in which they are going to lose out.

Bloggers – or at least, highly-popular, highly-professional bloggers such as yourself – are not the ones who should be grateful for any opportunity flung their way. When it comes to bloggers working with companies it’s a TWO WAY STREET. And it’s tiring how often this relationship is misunderstood, and exploited.

You’re probably right about this not being any one person’s fault, but an obvious lack of respect for your position (that of the Blogger) and your hard work, has been revealed here. Companies who realise the importance of social media bloggers can really make it work for them. Sadly, few understand that.

Well done for all your efforts, and again, for inspiring me to join you. I’m proud that via your initial decision to undertake this has lead to my raising that money for charity, and achieving a goal of my own. It was all your own motivation which inspired me, and you did that yourself. Your position here is a powerful one, and I hope more companies, and more people, realise that.

xxx

Grace (LondonMUgirl)

When you mentioned this on Twitter, I was one of the few ‘I wouldn’t post about it’ voters. I’ve changed my mind reading this. You weren’t promised a pot of face cream, a pair of shoes or a free lunch – you trained to do a half marathon. That’s a massive commitment on your part (which you went for whole-heartedly) and it’s utterly shabby for the social media company who approached you to welch on their half of the deal so completely.

It’s particularly disappointing as you do have a big reach, and this could have been so positive for the Nokia campaign. The fact that you weren’t a keep-fit nut in the first place makes you a perfect ambassador for them. It’s a shame they didn’t embrace the opportunity you gave them in the way that you embraced the challenge.

StuartW

Sadly it seems that “OMG I’m sorry, I’m still waiting to hear from the client!!1” has become “the dog ate my homework” of the PR world.

kerry@ miss power writes...

You should be so proud of yourself. A lot of people wouldn’t have bothered doing the run and putting themselves out of pocket (and time/energy/etc etc) after that debacle.

AND you inspired others to do the run whilst raising money for charity. It may be a #PRFAIL for Nokia/Mission but it is one hell of a win for Bangs and the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

Well done honey xxx

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

It is so sad that you were treated this way. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much influence you have – no one should be let down in that way. I admire the way you continued with your plan to run the marathon, despite the lack of support. I really hope that PR companies start to take bloggers more seriously and realise that many have enormous reach. This lack of respect needs to stop now.

Congratulations on such a well written post 🙂

Elizabeth @ rosalilium

I am so glad you have published this. The treatment you have received is absolutely appalling and no-one should have to suffer the same. You did an outstanding job training and completing the half marathon – Nokia and Mission should thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

Mizzworthy

Oh my goodness, what an absolutely disgusting way to be treated! I absolutely agree with a previous comment about social media seeming to thing bloggers should be grateful when they “throw us a bone”, in this case it’s def the other way around!
What a total fail on the part of this company, and how totally unprofessional they have proved themselves to be.

Charlie

I am absolutely gobsmacked and disgusted. You are absolutely right to publish what has happened. I also think it’s amazing that you carried on and did it and did so amazingly well I might add and Mission, you should be ashamed of yourselves. This is disgusting.

Phil Ingram

Good on you for publishing this. Not only do you have every right to detail this but I think you deserve recognition for retaining your professionalism and seeing it through to the end. Apart from obviously covering your bases for many others out there it shows among the many more flighty participants in this brave new world there is one who can be relied on. I think somehow, in the long run, you will come out a winner.

Shimmers999

for all that time, money and energy u gave and they just gave u a phone?…. sigh…

well on the bright side, it made u healthier and inspired other ppl to do so as well, so u should give yourself a pat on the back. 🙂

Matt

“The long run.” Boom boom. In all seriousness, you were right to publish this. Freedom of expression and all.

Caroline, No

God, that’s awful! The waiting to see if you’re actually in the race mustve been a nightmare!

Well done for publishing this. X

Jools Cyprien

I think it’s disgraceful how they have acted, you have done the right thing by publishing this. All the hard work and effort you have put in over these past few months for this event and they can’t hold up there end of the bargain. Again great effort with the race

Jen @_alittlebird

When you asked on Twitter if you should post an expose on a PR agency, I initially said I didn’t think it was wise. But when you mentioned it was connected to your half marathon, and now reading the full story, I’m so glad you went with your gut and posted this.

Lots of people in the comments are talking about a failing in social media – I don’t think that’s what this is. It’s a failing in basic communication. Like you said, you were a client of Mission’s. Would they leave Nokia, Barclaycard or CNN (just a few of their other clients) hanging like this? No, of course they wouldn’t. If they treated a big name client this word would spread and their reputation would be ruined… and that’s where they’ve seriously underestimated the blogging platform.

Andrew Marr might think we’re all second rate journos with inadequacies and pimples, but the reality is many bloggers have large, dedicated followings that give them real influence in the social media market. Any PR agency who believes they can get away with treating bloggers like this really needs to rethink their social strategy.

I’m the 14th comment on this post – that’s 14 people who won’t buy in to the Nokia Outdoor Series, 14 people who will consider every PR relationship from now on with more care and 14 people who definitely won’t be working with Mission any time soon. And I bet there’s a whole lot more who’ve read this post and are thinking the same.

jack

Ah Nokia. Having been vaguely involved in social media campaigns of theirs before, it is noticeable how difficult they can be in pulling through on their promises. No excuses on the part of mission surely! It’s not beyond the wit of social media company to bypass the client in buying some trainers/ booking that race. Terrible display all round from companies whoshould know better. No doubt the agency should be let go… but Nokia should take a good hard look at themselves, and see if the general social media is the place for such a sprawling, and obviously disorganised company. Strong work on the marathon running though… nice one!

VickiP

Well done for publishing this. You were treated totally unreasonably-lets hope this leads to some change.

Roxy

Wow am quite shocked at their treatment of you. I thought your letter to them was very understanding and reasonable!
Well done on the marathon itself, id say you felt fantastic after it,
Keep up the good work x

Lynne, Tea for Joy

Grrr… I had something where my blog was supposed to be featured on a site’s homepage – needless to say, it wasn’t, it was tucked away somewhere no-one would see it…

Tom N

Well bloody said mate. I was fwd’ed this by some collaegues in PR as how not to ruin brands credibilities whilst ruining blogger relationships…

you were completely right in writing and posting the email. companies like nokia need to realise that they can not take the bloggers for granted. it is bloggers like yourself that bring a campaign to life through your regular communication and buzz… keep on blogging and good luck for the future

shareitwearit

Shocking treatment and total admiration for you for speaking out and standing up for the integrity of the social media community.

Patrick Smith

What a good example of how not to do this kind of thing.

But I have a question: what has been Nokia’s response? Have they said anything to you since?

Sally Whittle

What a rubbish experience, and well done for sticking with it regardless.

I think it’s horribly common for agencies to have big plans at the outset of a social media campaign and not fully think through the time/resources that will be needed on an ongoing basis.

Personally, I think the problem is that too many agencies are stuck on ‘coverage’ and don’t consider working with bloggers to be about ‘relationships’. So having got you signed up, Nokia/Mission didn’t realise they were embarking on a four month long project that would require regular tending and attention.

Phil Ingram

oops, when I said “in the long run” I did not realise the inadvertent pun. Apologies. No bad punning intended 🙂

Dirk

This isn’t really about not understanding ‘social media’ or bloggers – it’s just plan bad practice, period. Treat anyone like that and you deserve what you get. Good for you

Pampered Pauper

Firstly, please can I hire you to write my complaint letters in future? This was excellent – clear, fair, engaging, uncomplicated and beautifully indignant. Secondly, such a good point well made, especially in terms of the effort you put in to do the marathon and the commitment you made, and how much that commitment was not matched at all on the part of the PR company/Nokia. I think the fact you stuck with it through all those months when the lack of communication might have made many of us quit is an incredible achievement. Congrats, don’t let the sting of this take away from your awesome acheivement!

Diane

Wow. Of course, they should have let you keep the phone in the first place, and reimbursement for train ticket + hotel would seem to be called for, too. I also think that a campaign involving this much energy and time on your part should have involved them paying you. Sadly, there is too often still a “bloggers should be grateful for anything we give them” attitude among PRs, or the companies they work for, or both, which drastically underestimates the impact of social media and sadly puts other bloggers off entering into partnerships with them in future. A shame all round.

Liz Burton

That’s appalling behaviour from them. What a huge ask of a blogger, only to be treated like that.

Well done you for keeping up your part of the bargain and I hope they take note! x

amina

wow – this is astounding! having just run my first half marathon myself i can’t imagine how i would have felt to find out i may not have had a place, so close to the race date. it takes an enormous amount of commitment, in fact a massive lifestyle change, to train for such a run. well done for doing it and i’m glad it worked out in the end, and you are so right to print this letter!

Amy (Confessions of a Fashion Editor)

I believe I’m compoltely justified in saying “here here” to this. You’re right; had you been a professional journalist in the conventional sense, no one would have treated you in this manner, and it’s definitely going to make me rethink the way I react to PR requests in future.

Joe

I run a blog and I work in PR. (I also live in Shoreditch – I’m a big fan of conforming to stereotypes).

The problem here seems to be that you confused yourself into thinking you were the client. You aren’t. You’re the media owner. Nokia is the client. And, as the people with the money, Nokia are perfectly entitled to change their minds about how they’re going to spend it. It’s hardly Mission’s fault that Nokia had a change of heart.

As the media owner, it’s your job to sell your media. A phone, some interviews with some athletes, a hotel room and a bit of traffic to your site could all be considered payment. But it’s pretty rubbish payment. Why didn’t you ask for cold hard cash upfront like any other media owner would? Or at least ask for something that would make it worth your while giving up your time on this project? That way, regardless of how the client changed their mind, you’d still have made your investment of time worth your while.

Soz not to be more supportive! I just feel sorry a bit sorry for Mission (an agency I’ve always heard good things about) catching all this heat for a client’s change of heart – especially when all of this could have been so easily avoided if you’d have asked for a contract or some sort of agreement before so kindly donating your media for free.

Jx

May

What a beautifully crafted letter of complaint! When you mentioned this on Twitter recently I certainly wasn’t expecting to read about such a shambles! Your dedication to the half marathon has to be applauded as most would have thrown in the towel after being messed about so much by the PR company involved! So much good has come from your journey, you’ve inspired and encouraged others and it’s such a shame Mission PR couldn’t fulfill their promises after asking you to do so much xxx

Anna @ Nokia UK

My name is Anna Shipley and as Head of Communications at Nokia UK and I wanted to let you know what we have now seen this post and please be assured that we are discussing this matter with our agency.

This is not the way we treat people and Muireann, please accept our apology. I will be in touch directly with you later today to apologise personally.

Anna

Koen

Joe – Mission is completely in the wrong here. They are a PR agency and if Nokia did change their mind, they should have made it very clear from the start. You don’t keep bloggers hanging in there, ‘promising’ to sort things out… If there is no full commitment from Nokia, tell the blogger.
Mission is even more at fault here than Nokia. They own the relationship with the blogger and should have sorted it out. And looking at the responses here, they are getting what they deserved!!

Erna

Joe: Having both been in PR and a blogger who has ‘engaged’ with Nokia and the sort, Mission clearly dropped the ball.

Thing is, if Nokia had chickened out in the first place, Mission should have let Bangs know instead of wasting 4 months of her time. It was obvious Mission behaved far less professionally. If say Bangs had been a Tier One media would Mission have treated her so shoddily and not keep her in the loop. I daresay no. It is not Mission’s fault if Nokia changed its mind but it is Mission’s fault for not caring enough about Bangs welfare.

Just taking a look at Mission’s amateurish website and staff bios, you wonder how it scored big name clients in the first place. Nokia has engaged plenty of bloggers in my country Malaysia and the PR company in charge were far more professional and efficient than Mission clearly was. So no, Joe, Mission is indefensible if Bangs’ allegations are true.

Dirk

Joe: dude I know you are from Shoreditch, but *where* are you from. Someone gets an unsolicited approach wrapped up with promises and fails to deliver and you think that’s ok? Mission or Nokia irrelevant who had a change of heart – honour and integrity laddy will keep us all going otherwise it’s we’re on a road to ruin. Nokia/Mission – be big and nail this….

Louisa

I would love to know how Mission respond so please keep us updated.

Joe, I think the main problem was Mission’s lack of communication about Nokia’s change of heart. Running a half marathon is a very big deal to most people and if I had committed to the same thing for the same reasons I would fully expect somebody to take an interest or at least keep me in the loop about what was going on regardless of payment!

I work in PR too and think it doesn’t take much to pick up the phone and level with someone if the situation requires it. Good manners cost nothing!

Duck

Thanks for writing this and bringing this scandal to our attention. I often have difficulties dealing with PR companies, but my complaints are minor in comparison to yours! How they have treated you is actually ridiculous. Never mind the fact that as a blogger and tweeter you have a lot of power – they should be treating you properly just because you are a human being who is going out of her way to help them out! This clearly shows the standard practise at Mission is sub-par 🙁

xx
Duck

Clive Booth

Credit to Anna Shipley of Nokia for acknowledging this as soon as the issue has come to her attention, and dealing with it personally.

That’s the right thing to do. If you’re in a hole, stop digging, is the adage of the crisis manager. At last PR best practice is being restored.

Clive

Gridlock

You agreed to run 13 miles for a free phone, a pair of shorts and a backlink? And then wonder why the the other party doesn’t take you seriously?

Of course Nokia will swing in now and ‘make things right’ (Anna up there is thinking “we can still turn her into a brand evangelist by rescuing this situation”) but really, come on…

Ritch

Great, the next example for all those social media seminars. Speakers and the audience at these events always love bad news examples, so I’m sure this will be around for months/ years to come. This is certainly one way to raise Mission’s profile. If I worked at a rival PR agency I would be phoning up Nokia to pitch them just about now.

Adam

Joe

You sound clueless about both PR and blogging.

She isn’t the client but she deserved to be treated rightly and with professional courtesy.

Mission screwed up, Nokia probably never knew about it.

End of.

Joe

As clueless as I probably am about both, I’d still probably ask for a contract if I’m doing something for a company.

Paul

Joe (Oct 12th 10.27am)

You do know Nathan Barley isn’t a documentary? Just checking.

Pierre L

Now I understand why you were running the half marathon and not raising money for a charity at the same time. A great blog post, but it would have been a lot nicer if you hadn’t needed to write it.

nadnut

This is really horrible. I really do hope that they will reimburse you for your train tickets and accommodation. How can they say there’s no more budget for accommodation?

That’s really their problem to manage and not yours.

britishbeautyblogger

Sadly this is not a surprising story, and you can bet your bottom dollar that had you not been filed under the ‘Blog’ category of media and had been documenting for a national, you would have had an entirely different level of service. It is all too common that PRs have their target lists in which bloggers feature last to make up the numbers. It is a short sighted view as collectively bloggers have figures that would make a monthly magazine weep with envy. Good for you though for seeing it through and better yet for being open with the unfolding events.

Claire Nelson

Joe – fair points, but whatever label you want to put on each party, it’s about a working relationship. Of which one party let the other down. Also, if Muireann was offered a deal and she agreed to it, (which she was, and she did), she shouldn’t have to ask for money upfront. It wasn’t about money. Certainly being emailed a list of benefits, as she was, should stand as some form of contract, no?

Think about it – if Bangsy hadn’t fulfilled her side of the bargain, Nokia would have been in their rights to withdraw what they promised. So why is it acceptable for it to work the other way around?

Huge kudos to Muireann for still fulfilling her side of the deal – obviously there was more in this to her than a phone and hotel room – and even though I’m sure neither Nokia nor Mission deliberately let her down, professionally, balls have been dropped at both companies. If Nokia were the ones to pull out, Mission should have dealt with it better. And vice versa.

The only one who came through with her end of the deal with Muireann, and I am hella proud of her.

Diane

Good on Anna (we share a surname, no relation) for acknowledging Nokia’s role and taking responsibility — it seems Mission really has to take accountability, too.

Joe is misguided in his response but I do think he raises some worthwhile considerations — perhaps bloggers need to learn about how media usually operates with PRs, as most bloggers are not journalists and so don’t have this type of experience. Perhaps contracts should always be signed for this type of deal, and bloggers should have more knowledge of their worth. A lot of people offer media training for PRs working with bloggers (not that Mission seem to have take much notice…) but what about the reverse?

SO FAR, SO CHIC

I think you’ve ABSOLUTELY done the right thing in exposing the parties involved in this monumental fuck up! PR agencies so rarely seem to know their arse from their elbow – they want to ‘have a bash’ at the whole ‘social networking’ scene (I’m doing ‘air quotes’ as I write this and it’s amusing me greatly – people who use air quotes should be shot) but they don’t have the expertise or the focus to do it properly or follow through on their promises.

I’m also annoyed that your efforts didn’t get to benefit a worthwhile cause such as a charity because you were committed to running for Nokia instead. Had you chosen to run the half marathon under any other circumstances I’m sure you would have been able to raise a great deal of money. Instead of that you’re personally out of pocket and the only thing to benefit from your very commendable time is your set of rock-hard buns.

Tish

Well done, a response from Nokia = a result. Hard hats on Mission Control…..

Claire Nelson

Agree with SO FAR SO CHIC – even if each of your followers had sponsored you merely £1, you’d have raised well over £2 grand for charity! Food for thought for Nokia & Mission…?

Karleen Smith

I have to be honest, althought I am an avid reader of your blog, I don’t normally comment on the blog but usually tweet you instead.( Yes, I know, I must do better!) However, I think it is great that you have raised this issue and encouraged discussion around the subject so I thought I’d add my say to the party.
Bangs, I have to say an amazing achievement on your part regardless of whether you had an arrangement with the PR agency so a massive well done! I also work in PR like others that have commented above. This whole situation is a real shame. I think the key point here is the lack of communication, regardless of whether you are a blogger or not. As PR professionals, it is our responsibility to keep all parties involved in projects, fully updated. I know that the ‘power of bloggers’ is being talked about a lot at the moment and I totally understand this concept. Just look at the recent Mac/Rodarte situation that I know you played a part in. However,I don’t think the ‘power of the blogger’ should be the motivation for treating somebody in a respectful manner. This should go without saying! Yes, plans do sometimes change and people should be updated along the way and as others have commented it is a 2-way relationship. I have to say, I am impressed with the personal response from Nokia and will be interested to see what happens next. Keep us posted lady!
Karleen x

Delali

Huge respect to you for fulfilling your commitment. I was impressed at your dedication and training anyway, but now I’ve got the whole picture I’m bowled over.
I would like to say I’m shocked at how you were treated by Mission (and maybe or maybe not Nokia), but unfortunately I’m not. Big companies are creating their own PR disasters and I have no pity for them. If you (big company) approach someone to work with, you’ve obviously seen the value of them and what they do. So why wouldn’t you treat them accordingly? It’s disgusting that they think it’s ok to discard people when it suits.
I was all for you ‘speaking the truth’ and I’m very glad you have.

Oh and @Gridlock – you just don’t get it do you…

Sarah Belizaire-Butler

Well done for your immense amount of training – wish I was so committed to my own fitness regime! Really disgusting to see you’ve been treated in this way.

I also run a blog and work in PR but find Joe’s comments deeply offensive. Mission have massively failed!

Yes, the client may have caused them problems but it sounds like Mission messed up by promising things that were not signed off or agreed.

In PR you have your own integrity and well as your clients to think about. As such I have never uninvited journalists or bloggers to events and don’t go back on my promises of what I can offer to them. I hold clients to account and let them know the consequences of messing people around.

Hopefully if more people are named and shamed – bloggers will start getting treated with more respect and the bad PRs will either up their game or disappear!

The initial idea was great and proves that bloggers can work with PRs for mutual benefit. Sadly, the way it was executed may put may people off discussing potential fruitful alliances.

Sarah

Thehopefulromantic

Bangs, as I’ve said before – well done for perservering in the face of all the background noise and uncertainty. As others have stated, it does sound like there was a major break down in communication. We don’t know why this is or how it came about but I would personally avoid labelling a whole company as ‘amateurish’ as has been done.
Nokia will be contacting you directly i see – so while it will never get your time and hard work back it is a step in the right direction.
Well done again Bangsy x

Kim

Well done for sticking up for yourself and publishing this post. I hope PR companies and big brands take note!

Bumbling

Umm, for those that have said she should have had a contract, she may well have had. A contract doesn’t have to come in fancy legal language on cream paper.

I agree to do something, and in return you say you’ll give me something. Offer, acceptance and consideration. The necessary qualities of a contract in English Law. I then go on and act in reliance of those promises. Sounds pretty contractual to me 😉

Not that I’d particularly want to fight about it, and it does help if everyone is very clear and transparent about what is being offered, which doesn’t seem to have been the case here.

(Oh, and if there were a contract here? It’s with the PR. Who then have a contract with the Client. Which should deal with what the PR is open to offer, and what happens when there are changes of heart…)

*this is just an opinion, based on limited facts, and not legal advice 😉

Rankersbo

Am I unusual in thinking that the comparisons between social media and tier one media are misleading. Whether bloggers are significant media players or not seems irrelevant to me, this was an unprofessional way to treat any person.

I’d go further into saying a blogger does not deserve to be treated with the same consideration as a tier one journo- they deserve better. Tier one journos make enough from their trade to compensate for being occasionally messed about by incompetent PR companies.

@JamesLacey

Hi,

On behalf of everyone at Mission, we are incredibly sorry that our actions have caused such a negative experience for you. Especially regarding something that is supposed to be fun, enjoyable and exciting. We’ve been trying to call you to reimburse you as soon as possible.

We would also like to make it very clear that your experiences are a result of our lack of internal communication, this is not Nokia’s fault and we are sorry that our actions have been so damaging to their reputation.

I am an employee at Mission, in fact, I’m Kaydine’s line manager and the person that responded to you by Twitter last week at your request for our Director’s contact details.

I’m sorry that we didn’t manage to resolve your concerns last week when you spoke to him, we genuinely thought we had.

I won’t make excuses or justifications for the drawn out processes you’ve had to endure over the summer. But I would like to clarify our commitment and Nokia’s to social and that this error is not a true example of our attitude and commitment to the changing communication industry.

I was offered a job at Mission in 2008 after being invited to work with VISA and their consumer promotion of cashless technology after starting a blog about living completely cashlessly for a year.

The job was created after the Directors of the agency recognised how quickly social was becoming an essential tool for brands and for brands to communicate their developments.

The job offer was actually to start a new digital agency at Mission, solely working on digital activity for our existing and new clients.

Rapidly the understanding of how the communications industry was actually integrating social, rather than migrating from offline to online, we scrapped that idea and decided the future was involving both on and offline voices in campaigns together.

As Sally Whittle says in the comments, PR and marketing activity needs to build relationships with key voices. We work tirelessly to that effect. It is, unfortunately, aspiration that led to your frustration that your videos have not made it onto the Outdoor Series website.

Like you, we were excited about having a blogger with a great audience, being an integral part of the series over the summer; exposing your videos to a wider audience and providing other participants with a regular and familiar peer also training for the race.

For a number of reasons, we weren’t able to deliver what we initially promised and we are hugely apologetic for this. But, please don’t think that you were treated with any less respect or commitment than any other journalist. I think the reach that this post has managed to garner so quickly is testament to how equally powerful on and offline media is these days.

Best Wishes,

James

George Cathcart

This is pretty poor to be honest. Someone at Mission needs to be schooled on the social web. Sorry that you had such a miserable experience with them.

Nicola Stephenson

As one of the directors at Mission, we of course take complete responsibility for this catalogue of errors. I can only apologise again to both Muireann and to Nokia for what has happened. We are taking some serious lessons from everyone’s comments today.

Wendi B

I absolutely applaud you for standing up! It’s a very well-written letter.

Gridlock – whatever…

Anna @ Nokia – It’s very noble of you to also comment and take this seriously.

Sombeody’s in troublllllllllle…..

AngryBritain.com

Hey Muireann, just spotted this posted on twitter and have just RT’d to my 7000 followers. An excellent post and a point well made.

Sucks being ‘seedy, single and very drunk’ doesn’t it, Andrew Marr?

Good luck!

AngryBritain.com / @AngryBritain

Nicola Croft

oh Bangs, what a miserable experience for you! but you look hot so the training certainly paid off!

Lollingtons

I don’t think Mission’s statement justifies anything.

Clearly if they have employed someone with SM experience, they too would acknowledge the inportance if a good relationship between bloggers and PR agency.

Very well written post and letter, and I only hope this exposes you as the wonderful writer you are, and that you have an incredibly loyal following. I am one of MANY who is very angry and disappointed on your behalf.

Much love xxx

Ian Rogers

The only sad side to this is that its probably going to be a junior/intern who is made the scapegoat and given the chop 🙁

Victoria

Blogger or not, this is not a good way to treat somebody you have asked to participate in your campaign and give up valuable time.

Well written letter! I hope every company learns a valuable lesson.

Anna

I suspect the ownership falls on both Nokia’s and Mission’s shoulders. It sounds as though Nokia prioritised delivering other elements of the campaign over bloggers, and Mission was left with the flack. Having said that, this was then very poorly handled by PRs who should never have left it so long to rectify. At the end of the day, a PR agency is worthless if no one will work with it. In future, if any blogger is having problems and complaints aren’t being listened / responded to then just move that complaint further up the ladder. A sharp email to the MD or CEO will get people moving.

BigFashionista

Fantastic work Bangs, I think that this post proves that social Media is not a medium made up of Single, cauliflower-nosed saddos.

Firstly, once again, congratulations on the half marathon. That is the main point.

You are completely within your right to feel let down by Mission, and I think it is such a shame that it has taken this blog post for Mission to come and apologise.

The power of the blog I think is something that a lot of people underestimate.

Congrats again on the marathon-Shame you didn’t have the support you needed while training and it is only AFTER the fact they are willing to make amends x x x

Ian Possebil

is it just me or is the response from mission extremely patronising?! to me it is not a good response or apologising in the correct way… looking at all the staff on the ‘mission’ website, there are clearly too many people not doing an adequate job, perhaps that’s why it’s called mission, because it really is!!

Milla

Excellent letter – straight to the point and honest. I am utterly shocked that a PR company behaved like this for 4 months. A one-off, fine but this is not acceptable. Instead of career suicide, you have given strength to many other bloggers who have been screwed around, and probably got some major companies rethinking their relationships with PR agencies.

Ondo Lady

Wow!! This is awful. Not only is it a breach cof ontract it is really unethical behaviour for a reputable company to promise anything to anyone and not deliver their end of the bargain. In respects I have worked with Mission in the past and I have found them to be very helpful and professional so I am really surprised to read this story. I would like to add that I have not read all the other comments as well as the letter from Mission so you may find another comment from me in due course.

Congratualtions on completing the marathon by the way, you did yourself proud.

Dave

Look on the bright side: thanks to this PR company, you are now super-fit, you’ve achieved something you never thought you would do, and you got to run in a fantastic race past some of the most famous buildings in the world(I ran it too, it’s a brilliant day).

Plus now you know never to trust anyone in PR.

Eddy Bernays

We have learnt lots about PR, blogging and one PR company in particular in this episode.

Not only has the company it failed at managing an effective social media campaign, but it had fallen woefully short at it’s own crisis management – ie: when the brown stuff started flying today, they couldn’t even muster a decent apology. If anything, they have made it worse by only managing to have some ex-blogger explain how he got his job in a very patronising way. Like that’s going to make it all better? “It’s alright chum, I’m one of you, I know how it is” *arm round shoulder*

Managing a project for a client requires balance and common sense – at no point do you say that “Client X is being really difficult” to the press. Get yer coat if you have to resort to that line, no room for you in PR.

We’re all taught the many types of ethics in PR – at ground level – and Mission management needs to look at the quality of their ethics because it all cascades down from the top. Major fail.

And that’s what we’re talking about: ethics. We don’t know if Nokia had not have been so helpful, but you don’t say that. Things may have gone pear shaped, but you manage it and you fess up if you can’t live up to your promises. In the beginning, you’re clear to the journalist/blogger about what you can actually provide – you don’t promise the moon and deliver a faded photocopy of it if that’s all you had in the first place. This is all about ethics. The blogger has them, the PR team doesn’t seem to, we shall see if Nokia does.

Yes, I am in PR and I have been client side as well as agency and If I was Anna at Nokia, I’d pull the contract immediately for bringing their brand into disrepute. No question, this is a clear cut case. Compensation would be mentioned in my emails.

If I was the AM at Mission, I’d sack myself for being so weak and not managing this project. I would write my own P45 there and then.

If I was the blogger – I’d go to bed happy after a job well done for revealing what can really go wrong when PRs behave in a questionable manner and standards fall. It’s episodes like this that give PRs a bad name and they need to be pruned from the tree.

To other bloggers – sleep well and don’t have nightmares, this is a very, very, very isolated incident.

Time for lunch.

Nota Bene

As both a PR and blogger, I have every sympathy with you – as a blogger I am at the receiving end of all sorts of PR nonsense, badly targeted, full of lies and half truths. The PR industry does seem to deserve the terrible reputation it has.

Andrew Allsop

I’m sad to read about how you were treated and hope it gets rectified in the near future. However, well done for training for and competing in the marathon – It’s something I’ve always wanted to do!

Everyone has the right to be respected as a person whether they’re a client, media owner or account handler. When will businesses realise social media is as much about having a social attitude as it is about controlling media.

Anna

“I’m Kaydine’s line manager”? Naming and blaming a member of your team is a bit low – surely it was a team mistake and you should take joint ownership? Do you not have regular team catch ups? Weak apology if you ask me.

Cat

(this blog ate my first comment so if it comes up twice, I’m not just repeating myself, although it does bear repeating…)

Bangs – you are a true LADY. Where many would have stooped to swearing and frustrated rage, you deliver your complaint with ultimate poise, clarity and integrity. You really are an amazing woman and gifted writer (but me and all your other loyal fans knew this already..)

Tough times being let down like you did but yet you didn’t let that knock you, despite all the hurdles, you kept at it, determined as ever and you bloody did it. You are a total inspiration and may I say one of the very reasons that I have lost almost a stone in weight, since joining your fitness train. I am mega proud of you.

This is an incredible post and I am overwhelmed by the response it is having – you caused quite the stir, but in typical Bangs fashion – in the most honest and genuine way. It must have been a scary thing to do to post this but you have handled it impeccably – I am totally virtually high fiving you right now *high fives*

Keep doing what you do Bangs… we’re right behind you xx

Pam Lyddon

I had been reading about your weight loss and fitness training and never realised this was going on !
It doesn’t matter whether who you are, no-one should be treated like that. I am amazed you wrote such a calm letter I would be alot worse – I congratulate you for that.
Regardless of what went on, a bit of honesty and communication doesn’t hurt in these circumstances. Even if Nokia were messing Mission around they could have flagged it up to her. Perhaps a quiet word in her ear?
I agree with everyone – appalling how it was handled however, I really applaud your success with the marathon ( I would have pulled out). You look fabulous and as ever are a real inspiration !

Nicola Stephenson

We have apologised directly to Muireen and also to Nokia for how this situation was handled. Occasionally people make mistakes and the people involved here at the agency feel terrible to have let Muireen down. We are and have been in contact trying to make amends. At no point have we made any excuses about what has happened.

Eddy Bernays

The problem is, Nicola Stephenson, the first stab at an apology was weak when it should have been short, humble and deeply apologetic. Your collective hands should have been clearly raised – they were not. Doing it wrong since May is one thing, but to continue afterwards is just making it worse and is giving PR a bad name.

Just who handles crisis management at Mission? I would add their P45 to that of the AM for the way the recovery is being fumbled.

Do feel free to feed the flames some more.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef

I have just begun training for a half marathon myself, and even at this early stage can fully appreciate the mental, physical and financial costs associated with your (literal and metaphorical) journey!

I think you should be applauded for sharing this experience with us, and I hope that it results in some people taking a long hard look at their practices.

Also, well done on actually finishing the half marathon! I’m sure I’ll be thinking of you when my big day finally comes, wondering if any tiny throat tickle or itchy nose is about to blossom into a horrible virus.

Laura

I work for a PR Agency here in Dublin and was absolutely astounded to discover the way in which you were treated. It is absolutely unacceptable – no matter how big or small, a client is to be treated with the utmost of importance at all times.

It seems that Mission will discover the influence of social medias and blogging now – but all for the wrong reasons. Their name will be tarnished . As an agency in the year 2010, they should know better about how social media can be utilised – I never would have even found this letter/site had I not seen a link on twitter.

I’d like to extend my most sincere congratulations for having the courage to expose this company and I wish you all the best in the future.

Caroline

I was made aware of your post by LLG on twitter, it’s an awful story especially after all the commitment and physical effort you have put in. Well done for running the race and inspiring others to do so!
It’s Nokia’s loss!

All the best,
C.

Johanna Burrows

Wow – I was one of the Twitter followers who encouraged you to name and shame on this – and I didn’t even realise their behaviour had been half as bad as this!
The fact they didn’t even bother to secure you a place in the end just leaves me speechless – how on earth can they justify treating somebody who has put so much work and effort into helping them in that way?
This is wholly unacceptable and I really hope they look into how they treat clients from now on – the only good thing that can come out of this is that they improve their practice.
Well done for being brave enough to speak out – you have chased them and chased them over the last few months and given them many opportunities to correct what they have done wrong – or should I say to do anything at all….
Well done for keeping positive, sorting out the place, travel and accommodation yourself and sticking to your side of the bargain so impressively when you were being royally screwed over.

www.MadeWithPink.com

What a fabulous letter – very well written! I totally feel for you! Compared to others I’m fairly new to the blogging world, but have already been promised things by social media agencies, only to have to chase them up and never to hear from them again. Thankfully I never devoted much time to their products/campaigns before I realised that what they were promising wasn’t going to see the light of day. You’re situation and letter will remain with me forever! Thanks very much for bringing this problem into the public eye, because I can only see it getting worse before it gets better. Congrats on the marathon btw!

Johannas

Is this the same @nic_stephenson from @ThisIsMission writing on here, I wonder?

Ondo Lady

Ok I am back – I knew I would be.

@Joe from Shoreditch – I disagree with everything you have said and find your comment very patronising. Your experience with Mission has nothing to do with what Muireann’s went through. However, you have raised one good point, that we bloggers probably do not know our worth and should consider asking for cold cash when they are approached by PR companies to cover events and products.

@Gridlock – You really are not getting this are you? Muireann made a deal with the PR agency and it was up to them to see through that deal. If they did not take her seriously then why did they approach her?

@JamesLacey – Nice to see that you have responded to this situation but I cannot believe that you have literally thrown one of your junior staff under the bus. How unprofessional!!

Reading between the lines it seems that the communication breakdown was not just between Mission and Muireann but also between Mission and Nokia and Muireann was caught in the cross fire.

I think the real point here is that not only do PR agencies need to work on how to interact with bloggers but also how to work with their own clients on meeting realistic expectations. Also how to tell that client that their expectations are ridiculous and when their behaviour is totally unethical.

Rebecca

Anke and me were talking about your great achievement today and decided we would like to sign up for a half marathon too. So, there’s two people you’ve inspired:-)

Now I get what you meant by “creating a shit storm”. These catastrophic communication mistakes aren’t something I would like to explain to my boss when talking about the next promotion.

As I am also in the business of working with bloggers this seems like a confirmation of something I have noticed long ago: It often is very hard to establish a trustful relationship online, even if social media should make it so easy. Many (on both sides) don’t regard emails and instant messaging as a binding way of communicating deals. As if it were less valuable to make agreements via skype than over the phone.
You took the agreement seriously, this agency seemingly didn’t. That is terrible but hopefully also a good example for everyone, that promises made via the internet should be as important as the ones you give someone face to face.

FletchtheMonkey

Muireann, firstly great achievement and well done. Running the New York marathon was one of my greatest achievements and your enthusiasm and toil reminds me of that day. And you’ve raised lots for charity, which is brilliant.

My two cents are that I think your experience highlights bad communication and project management more than anything, something that (as someone who works for a digital agency) I reckon Mission will be very keen to ensure doesn’t happen again.

But, and I don’t want to appear insensitive at all, the biggest question I’m wondering is about remuneration at all and how it relates to blogging? Should brands be offering payment (whatever the form) for bloggers to undergo tasks for them and write about them? I think your experience highlights the a grey area surrounding how brands speak to key influencers and attempt to use their influence for the benefit of the brand.

I’m a blogger and the last thing I want to see is a world whereby bloggers expect remuneration for writing about brands.

A Girl, A Style

I am absolutely astounded at the depth to which you were mistreated! Absolutely horrifying. I hope you’re suitably compensated and that you (eventually) receive the reply you deserve.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Briony xx

China Blue

I read this post earlier, and wanted to think about the comments and issues raised before saying anything.

Joe’s comment resonated with me – you’re not the client, but the media owner, but that remark was perceived as placing you at the bottom of this food chain, which is way off-target I think.

The problem here is that bloggers aren’t seen as media owners and accorded the SAME respect as ‘conventional’ (read: old media) owners. Media owners are certainly on a par with the client, but relationships with both should be built and nurtured with the same amount of care as you’re equally important, not least to the survival of the middleman’s livelihood. PRs and brands rely on people like you, because as media owner, you wield some real clout.

Bloggers are sometimes seen as second-rate non-journos with fast mouths and fast fingers; the cheap labour of the social media world. They are cultivated as an afterthrough by companies who don’t always know much about social media, except that everyone else is doing it! I’ve seen it for myself, on both sides. Bloggers can be seen as a means to reaching an audience without spending very much – if any – money. Hey, you do it for free, you do it for the love, right? Wrong. You don’t do it for the fame and the freebies, but they’re a nice perk. It doesn’t mean that people can take the piss.

A blog like yours is, to me, on a par with a newspaper or magazine column. Something you’d see in the Guardian or Times; the difference might be a journalism degree and/or a monthly salary for your efforts. You’d bet your booty grope that had it been yer Caitlin Morans or Eva Wisemans instead of you, they would NOT be writing a piece about how Brand X reneged on a deal that they’d upheld their end of. But hey, since a blogger just sits at a computer in Mummy’s basement and mouths off into the ether (according to Andrew Marr), it’s OK to mess them about? Wrong again. Dead wrong.

I hope that Mission and Nokia have learned the value of a simple email or phonecall BEFORE the shit flies out of the can and towards the fan. I also hope you can still get bigger and better projects after this; you’ve come out fighting but dignified, and in the long term that will help, not harm, your online reputation. I’ve seen articles about this story all over the web and the ‘How Not To’ guide for branding/PR/social media has been rapidly updated to include this debacle.

Look forward to seeing how this pans out…

Janice

@JamesLacey – Thanks for taking the time to respond to this post but like Ondo Lady said publicly naming and attempting to shame a junior staff to take away from Mission managements obvious failings is a cowardly move.

Congratulations again Bangs on completing the half marathon
x

Jane H

I’d have to say, its quite interesting to read this without any emotional tie to the blogger. Yes, what happened is by no measure good, and Mission unfortunately messed this up- but, I would challenge anyone posting on here to emotionally step away from the situation, and ask his- or herself to confirm that he or she has never been involved in a miscommunication at work. I surely have (though it involved paper stickers on a metal surface), this little miscommunication led to some poor soul having to work probably an extra 10-15 back breaking hours to get those off. Once again, not justifying any actions of Mission- but you know what they say- the flap of a butterfly wing can lead to a hurricane. I would step softly before writing such condemning words- remember its not anyone else’s job on the line except those at Mission. Lesson learned: reimbursements being sent, apologies made- what is everyone here demanding now?

Just my two cents 🙂

Alex Flores

Read through your very well written letter and through a lot of the comments. It just makes me shake my head (in a left-to-right disapproving manner) and shrug my shoulders that despite all the steps forward SM, accomplished bloggers, have taken there is still this decided lack of understanding, but even worse than that, RESPECT.

Good letter. Good job outing the shortcomings of a PR agency. And good luck. It’s not career suicide at all. I’m gonna RT this too.

Krystyna

Jane H – You are right, of course, this should all be over and done with.

Mission got it wrong and they’re sorting it – fine. But to cock-up repeatedly for many months, blame the client in the process AND try to wishy-wash it away with a lame response is just not right in any language. One mistake, ok, but months and months worth? It’s not like Bangs was waiting for a free cake (bet she’d love one now!) in return, but she spent months training for the race. If you find it acceptable as ‘one mistake’ then I wish you were my boss: I’d get away with murder.

As someone else said: ethics, ethics, ethics.

Nats

@ Nicola Stephenson – life would probably be far simpler if Mission would just admit defeat, provide a genuine apology and accept liiabil;ity. Noooo instead you continue to dig a deeper hole for yourself and cant even be bothered to spell Bang’s name right. FYI it is MUIREANN – as per her complaint letter to you (thought I would say that for you Bangs because that would get my back up). That said no one at Mission probably even bothered to actually read it to the end anyway! SMH

Muireann – so glad you did this. The fact that you maintained a sense of dignity and did not expose all prior to completing the rest is admirable. As for the person who commented that you shouldnt be taken seriously because you did it for a few back links and a free phone – hello?? Most people would have simply not even bothered as soon as elements of the original offer were being removed. You endured 4 months of this shoddy beaviour, all the while saying nada, training tirelessly and diligintly! If you were just about a few freebies you would have done the running man and the wop outta preparations for that race quick as a flash!

For me this just typifies the way that these companies tend to handle average Joe generally. All small fish with no money – therefore no clout. Its great that you have been ab;le to expose this company for what it is – many people going about their day to day lives and experiencing such disgraceful conduct often do not.

Your conduct reflects the characteristics of someone with dignity and true moral values. I commend you highly missus

Stephen Waddington

Good for you for being patient for so long. It strikes me that this is plain bad manners on the part of the PR rather than a lack of knowledge of social media. As a broad rule PR’s treat bloggers as hacks, whereas their motivations are completely different.

Helen

Regardless of the PR/Blogger/Client relationship, what this boils down to to me is simple good manners. Offer someone a deal that they accept, then see it through. It is a basic premise of good customer service to return a phonecall or email, especially from someone you are in some kind of relationship (contract?) with. This goes for both the PR company acting as the middleman, and the client who set up the arrangement in the first place.

I expect I am not alone in reading Mission’s statement as more of a public apology to Nokia than to Muireann.

Bangs – I hope you can stay focussed on your awesome achievement of successfuy running the half marathon than on the sour taste that this shabby and rude behaviour will inevitably leave behind.

Ronke

Sheez, Bangs – much, much, much more kudos to you for the commitment you gave towards the marathon, I respect you BIG TIME.

As someone who works in PR it definitely is our responsibility to keep all parties of a project in the loop at all times and I sincerely hope this was a complete error by a member of staff rather than total disregard. I’m glad two Mission directors and a representative from Nokia have contacted you personally Bangs, whilst it’s probably a little too late due to the mammoth amount of work you’ve put in – at least these apologies and acknowledgements have taken place.

The positives to take from this situation have already been mentioned by Claire, but just to reiterate there clearly is a true value of REAL bloggers (those that keep us entertained and informed on whatever it may be, day in day out). Peeps don’t be afraid to ask for the dough and some when being approached by brands (which I suppose is dependent on what’s being asked of you) … as the song goes “Ain’t nothing going on but the rent”, *Cue PDiddy shouting the word “REMIX” “you gotta have some mo-on-ney if you wanna’ piece of me”…

Some brand owners actually have mulla available for bloggers within campaign budgets… I know I have had this available for in the past for my clients…

Bangs I salute you for your dedication shown towards the marathon and to your dedication and as an owner to a fantabulous blog – you’re a clear example of why I haven’t arisen from my blogger’s grave yet, because when l return I will do so with a rocket up my ass to kick butt and remain committed as is you and regularly post on my blog even if at said blog update time I’ve eaten too much and have a bad case of itis. (Which has been the case for the past year…)

Gridlock – hopefully you’ll get “IT” soon… if not, go slap yourself.

BANGS ROCKS!

Word.

The-Beauty-Pages.com

Wow – somebody has just posted this on Facebook and I clicked the link. I can’t say much more than what has already been said above – but I wanted to add that despite the incredible frustration at being ‘forgotten’ by Mission, I am very very impressed that you kept up the training and are still planning to run. I think I’d have given up the training as soon as I got the first hint of the disaster that was unfolding. Sending you lots of luck for the race.

@veritycash

i’ve been following this throughout the day as a PR and as a reader of Bangs.
It seems to me the problem is (and forgive me for sounding like an old fart!) that younger people coming into the PR industry aren’t being taught the bread and butter basics of our industry. Relationships. Its not called Public Relations (or media relations) for nothing. There have been some comments about coverage vs relationships but really all PR’s out there reading this and commenting know that if you can’t be bothered to put the effort in and read someone’s blog, interact with them and keep the relationship going in in a genuine and meanigful way to both parties – don’t bother. You won’t get coverage anyway – unless its this type of expose which is enough for some brands to pull retainers from agencies.
As British Beauty Blogger comments, all too often blogs are treated as a way to boost coverage numbers. A very short sighted view of a medium that growing massively and is a very immediate ’cause and effect’ type medium. Anyway, i’ll end this comment with a call to all senior PR people reading the post and comments to train junior staff properly, don’t pass them the bloggers list to do because they’re not ‘real’ media. Take the time at a senior level to read blogs that matter to your clients and lets get back to the relations bit of our jobs.
Look forward to reading the update tomorrow Bangs

Smarty P. Jones

As a journalist, I have to say that the way you were treated was nothing short of deplorable. Journalists are often taken for granted in these types of situations. Yes, the client pays the PR folks and it is the PR folks’ job to get the client the coverage and exposure they need, therefore, they need us, the journalists.

Journalists should be treated just as well as the clients. In a lot of ways, journalists are the gatekeepers deciding whether or not the product or services you are peddling will make it through to reach the masses.

For the most part, journalists aren’t in anyway looking for perks or handouts. Bloggers are journalists, but aren’t yet compensated as traditional journalists. Therefore, when you lean on bloggers and do not compensate but promise certain courtesies and services, the least you can do is follow through.

What was done here is equivalent of the thieving of services. In the future, get things in writing, babes, then folks can follow the paper trail. I hate this happened to you.

Michael Taggart

I’m not going to rub salt in your wounds Mission – but we all really need to make sure we understand this lesson.

Empower people with information – this will keep them happy(ish) even when the chips are down. Once you’ve made them happy – get them talking. You don’t have to encourage unhappy people to talk. They’ll want to do that, especially if they already have an audience.

Social Media and getting smarter strategy « Dot Dot Dot Digital

[…] There will always be newspapers, there will always be blogging, the trick for big companies is to realise how to harness them for their purposes – whether that’s huge advertising campaigns or sending items to be reviewed by trusted bloggers. They have their pluses and minuses. It really means that your media planners need to be a bit smarter and planning and strategy needs to take into account what is actually deliverable. After all, if you’re going to ask bloggers to do things for you, you don’t want things like this to happen […]

Stacey

I can certainly see by the response that your post has hit a nerve with many in the blogging world. As a fellow blogger, I was digusted for you and proud of your post.

Those that do not fully understand the immediacy and scope of blogging and the social media world we live in don’t realize that the damage to the Nokia brand and to Mission will be hard to undo and no amount of PR can repair when your brand has been tarnished.

Bloggers always stick together too and obviously these guys were really not saavy as they don’t realize that there will be more than your readers who hear about this, every blogger will ensure this message gets out and the interwebs ALL hear about this.

Good on you for speaking up Bangs, I am very proud of you and stand behind you 100%. Now to go Tweet your post!
Stacey

LeanneOCD

What a massive achievement Bangs! Congratulations on the half marathon. I’m really proud that you kept your side of the bargain.

Not really very much more I can add to the comments above, shoddy treatment from Mission/Nokia. But you knew that already.

Shame really. It could have worked out so well for them, choosing such a committed person to undertake their challenge. Still, I hope you are glad that you did it.

Jen @_alittlebird

I was waiting for someone from Mission and/or Nokia to come in here and spell your name wrong, Muireann, and Nicola Stephenson is the lucky winner. Jeez.

Sean Clarke

I can’t wait to see how this pans out when someone at Nokia finds out about it. Well done for sticking to the training and losing weight and kudos for a well written letter.

Isabel Lauri

Hello Muireann

Is your ‘blogger’ profile elevated enough yet?!

A letter to Mission and perhaps to their client, is absolutely appropriate since you were horrendously treated.

I would love to know what you were expecting from posting your letter? Were you just waiting for an apology from Mission or Nokia?

As the posts above says “can’t wait to see how this pans out” – PUBLIC HANGING! SACK THE FUCK UP… sorry, lost myself there…

3 Words Chezza

I really cannot believe this!!!

Muireann, well done on an amazing achievement. As for Nokia and Mission, well I’m disgusted. If a director of a PR firm shows such little attention to detail by spelling your name wrong it does not surprise me in the least that the company itself would make such a horrendous cock-up.

Kudos to you x

Caradiaz

What can I said that hasn’t already been said above… Well done for not keeping your mouth shut and also for sticking to the training and completing the marathon despite the complete cock up you described.

Like Sean Clarke, I’d be interested to know if anything happens when Nokia hears about the whole thing.

Oh, and I also would like to join Jen @_alittlebird in congratulating Nicola Stephenson for her ‘misspelling’ prize – she sure didn’t disappoint.

Barbie Girl

Nicolo, Nicolo, Nicolo … Oops got your name wrong, it’s Nicola, right?!?! What a joke!!! haha

Bee

I’m sorry that you experienced this but also sorry you felt the need to name and shame! I totally understand you are pissed (furniture that I pay for and doesn’t arrive for 6 months with no explanation pisses me off, as does bank charges with endless chat from their representatives, as does dealing with suppliers for work who don’t supply on time) but this isn’t about that or your experience. I unnderstand you want to rant and also address this is the blog world as a topic of conversation buy what have you really achieved for the greater good?

Like Jane H commented – all you have achieved in the long run is destruction to the living of a company, who employs people who might loose their jobs if this effects current clients, not only that but they might not get new business so you have basically potentially killed a business!

For what? No one writes about the good things – I am sure Mission have had thousands of great dealings with bloggers but unfortunately that is forgotten.

This is all based on your experience, only you, and yes it seems your situation wasn’t handled the best but perhaps you had a part to play in how it panned out – why on earth do you wait 6 weeks to chase to call in a info pack? Why wait till after to send the letter? If you had been more assertive from the beginning you wouldn’t have experienced this and the fact is this issue would have been raised and dealt with by more senior members of staff. You experience was based on your dealings with one member of staff, not the whole agency and that is why I don’t think this blog was at all fair or justified.

(typed with thumbs on iPhone so sorry for typos!)

Rachel

Call me a cynic but if Mission have a client as large as Nokia, surely they’re doing pretty well and this won’t put them out of business?

As a blogger I’ve only had positive experiences with PR companies, and I’ve actually always blogged that. But I am very polite…

Claire Nelson

@Bee – Muireann is not asking for anyone to get fired, but if someone loses their job because they failed to do their job efficiently, then so be it! This is not one small mistake, this is a whole line of mistakes, but realistically I doubt one single person can be blamed for all of them. So I doubt anyone will get fired. I think you’re being a bit dramatic.

Regarding your idea that Muireann has “basically just killed a business”? Um, yes, if a business can die a death for being outed over a mistake, it’s not much of a business to begin with. You said yourself that Mission “probably have thousands of great dealings with bloggers”, so your comments here are not just melodramatic, but contradictory.

So, “Bee”, I don’t understand the point of your comment here… you seem to be saying that Muireann’s post paints a one-sided picture of this PR company. This isn’t “A Portrait of a PR company”, this is a situation which is being held up as a prime example of what happens too often in the social media world. Muireann has said nothing untoward, rude, or untruthful, so if anything paints a negative picture, it is the failures of the PR company.

Do you really think Muireann should have just put up and shut up? Or do you think she should still have vented about the situation but protected the companies? I’m curious – why should she protect them? What good does this do either side of the relationship in the social media industry? In this case Mission – and many other PR companies – have learned a valuable lesson, and only good can come of it from hereon in.

In other industries, poor performance is revealed and reviewed… if it doesn’t start to happen more in the PR world, these things will keep happening, and nothing will ever change.

Sarah T

“Nicola Stephenson – October 12th, 2010 at 1:37 pm
We have apologised directly to Muireen and also to Nokia for how this situation was handled. Occasionally people make mistakes and the people involved here at the agency feel terrible to have let Muireen down. We are and have been in contact trying to make amends. At no point have we made any excuses about what has happened.”

Oh dear Nicola, haven’t you read your colleague’s patronising comments, the ones that followed his cv and sacrifice of a junior? Gridlock may not be “getting it” but nor are you. Your agency has caused offence, acted in an incredibly high-handed way and you don’t even have the grace to publicly apologise. Apart from being plain bad manners, it is dubious business practice, as other people, like me and the many thousands who will read this sorry story, will be suspicious of working with such a shower as Mission.

Bangs, you really have started something, and hopefully it will highlight the value of bloggers and the influence they have. You have acted with grace while those around you have been… shabby.

Joanne KP

So much to say I could be here all day, but I will try and keep it short (although sadly I’ll never match the shortness of @tidge whose comment summed it up quite brilliantly!)
Muireann – as you know I am a big fan of your blog and really enjoy chatting to you on Twitter. As I’ve said before, even if I or other people don’t agree with every point you make, you always make for fascinating reading. In this situation it doesn’t take a genius to see that you were wronged. You did what you said you would, Mission did not and no matter who or where it comes from, at the end of the day manners cost nothing and you were not treated with respect. That’s not just a business error, that’s a moral one. For the people who have left negative comments – they seem to have missed the fact that it clearly took guts for you to post this and was a not a decision taken lightly. This is not the post (or the letter) of someone who had one negative experience and mouthed off first chance they got and without consideration. You clearly did what you could do rectify this sooner and resolve it in a private way. And when that didn’t work you shared it with people you care about – your readers. A lot of people seem to be suggesting the paid journalist is deserving of more respect. I disagree – every journalist has an editor to answer to and to censor them, not to mention the politcs they have to manoeuvre and agendas they have to push. The best thing about blogs? They belong to the author and the author alone – they get to say whatever they want without censorship.
I’m proud of what you achieved – not just on Sunday, but even more so today. I pretty much know bupkis about how a PR company works, but I do know that if I owned one and there was one blogger who could generate the kind of attention you have with one post(15000 hits in one day – some major companies don’t get that. I highly doubt Mission get that in a month) then I’d be trying to get her on the payroll!
I really hope that this post brings rewards of some kind – whether that be more readers or more offers for you, or perhaps big companies listening up to people they may feel are ‘small fish’.
Yours is the mother of blogs, and today you did something to protect other bloggers and I hope you feel very proud of yourself as you deserve.
I have watched with fasciantion today and look forward to an update tomorrow.

PS. Loved the comment by @China Blue
PPS. Personally, I found the use of ‘social’ (corporate chat – ick!) rather than ‘social media’ pretty irritating from Mr ‘pass the buck’ Mission. I hope it’s added to PR companies Bullshit bingo!

Tom

@Sarah T, I think you omitted the words ‘of sh@t’ when you described working with ‘such a shower’ as Mission. Still, I reckon Nicola Stephenson’s attention to detail will more than prove me wrong…

Ordinary Joe Bloggs

Oh dear … the power of social media shines well and truly through. If this is not a lesson to brands and agencies alike, then I don’t know what is.

I’ve followed this thread since it broke all over the marketing press yesterday and it astounds me that an agency with the reputation of Mission would drop such a clanger.

What astounds me even more are the employee comments which have been hastily posted on this blog – not good crisis management technique at all but perhaps understandable as the story had become an uncontainable virus of epidemic proportions.

We can all learn a lesson from this both commercially and socially. The uncharted power of the web creates instant comment, feedback and opinion with no hiding place and the potential of viral spread to epidemic levels.

Having tracked this story – the 15,000 hits per day on this site are a drop in the ocean to the reach this story has achieved … if only the story had a positive spin.

I hope that there are no scape goats made at a junior level within Mission – the fault obviously lies at a higher level. I am also quite sure that Nokia hold some culpability in this too as I am well aware of the difficulties in “getting hold” of clients when you most need them – although there is an irony in this with Nokia!

To all those within the creative industry who have followed this – many I am sure with a degree of schadenfreude – learn from this sorry tale. We all make mistakes (and I can assure I have made some crackers!) – the secret is to learn from them and never repeat them.

I know Mission to be a great agency with a sound reputation – and this could have been a minor hiccup save for the power of blogging … time to move on, learn and continue to do what we do best – effectively communicate.

Mrs M

Nothing to be said that hasn’t already been said but well done for posting this & I hope other PRs take note!

Jill Adams

Wow, Murieann, brilliantly written letter, and post. I applaud you!

We have all been there, and continue to be there every day. As we speak I am chasing up a girl at American Apparel who isn’t doing her job (don’t ask), someone at a place called ‘Chase PR’ who promised me a free Storm watch in exchange for covering their press event.. don’t even get me started on ASOS.. I do think there were meetings with a major London ad agency in exchange for the elusive free Nokia watch… the good news is, when our blogs reach a level of success and popularity, we get on these PR company’s lists.

The bad news is, often, that we get on these PR company’s lists.

We have to make decisions each day about how to spend our time. It often comes down to trusting one person on the other end of an email who we haven’t met, and who sounds nice enough, but who doesn’t, ultimately, value our time or our worth.

I am posting this link on the top of my side bar, and encouraging all to spread this post. It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: we are, most of us – not all of us, granted, but a good number of us – hard working, reliable, professional human beings who need our time to be valued, especially by the very people who are benefiting from the audience we have built up.

My very best wishes to you, Murieann, and I hope to meet you some day and shake your hand.

Jill Adams, @polkadot23 http://www.polkadot.tv

Linda

Well done for standing up for yourself babe! Little fish bite back too!!!!

6 myths about bloggers... and why brands and PR pros should treat them properly | The Media Marketing Co - Digital Marketing Agency

[…] Take a leaf out if the journalist ‘PR pros complaint’s book’ and… don’t patronise, don’t bribe, be upfront about what you want and what you’ll do in return, stick to the agreement, and certainly don’t ignore or mistreat them, because it will backfire badly, as Nokia has found to their cost this month with the embarrassing debacle of Bangs and a Bun’s marathon race, […]

Firgas’ Friday Fives «

[…] Carey-Campbell: the blogger who stood up to Nokia and Mission Media. We hate hearing stories like this – part of the reason we set up Raw News was to treat our […]

Cherie City

Bangs, thanks for posting this. It’s a brave move and it will hopefully help all of us – bloggers, PRs and journos alike.
What they asked you to do took a major investment of time, energy and dedication. They’ve basically asked you to be a reporter, which a writer/freelancer would be paid for.
Cost price of a Nokia phone is peanuts and I’m pretty sure that Mission/Nokia give them away to ‘celebs’ for just posing in front of a logo board in a London member’s club without doing much else (I’ve been to these events as a journalist).
So when they confirmed they couldn’t fulfil these very basic benefits, the situation was left with you providing free content, publicity and a positive image for the client. You could have taken part in the race on your own accord at less expense to yourself.
Not only is it badly organised but extremely exploitative!

Cherie City

Also PRs please note that most bloggers have full-time jobs (well, how else do you think we finance providing ‘mostly’ free publicity for your brands)and cannot jump at less than a day’s notice. Even six days isn’t enough in Muireann’s case, as employers don’t take kindly to last-minute requests.
More evening or early morning events please.

Adrielle

Wow – how awful! Good for you for writing such a clear and concise letter and for including the perfect amount of emotion in it (sometimes we try to be so professional that it turns sterile and mute). I sincerely hope something more is done to accommodate all your efforts. Becoming physically more fit and aware and such is a definite perk, but not when you were promised SO MUCH MORE! And allowing you to keep the phone? Big deal, as if that alone can compensate. Anyway, keep your chin up and don’t back down! 🙂

Claire

An interesting read, it’s a shame things fell through to the point where you had to do this, but I think you have handled it with dignity and fairness. Congrats on running the marathon anyway and hope things resolve themselves. Claire @ The Beauty Scoop1c x

MrsD

I’m very sorry you had this experience but not surprised one little bit sadly to many PR’s just don’t get on line in the shape of bloggers or sites.
I love your site and your style ….

dulwichmum

I am horrified by what has happened to you, but sadly, not shocked. I love how you handled it sweetie. At least you know how to behave if they dont (stomps foot).

PR Mummy

Hello, I was at blogcamp yesterday. Loved your presso and this story intrigued me. Well written and feel terrible you were treated this way by an industry I work in – though not surprised. There are a lot of bad eggs in every industry and PR particularly so. As a runner (love your other running posts) I find it absolutely unacceptable that you went through the pain of half marathon training – no mean feat. Your treatment isn’t just about under-valuing the blogging community, it’s about common courtesy and politeness (i blame the parents). I hope this post helps weed out the jokers from the PR industry.

Liska

I really agree with Sally Whittle’s comment. She sums it up really well, which is ironic, as it was at an event that she organised, the day before yesterday, that I met Bangs, and her pink dress 🙂 Was unaware of this blog till then.

Joe at 12th Oct 10:27 a.m. This is nothing about being or not being a client. They have a “public relation[ship]” with Bangs that should be honoured and maintained. You say that it is hardly Mission’s fault that Nokia had a change of heart but can’t you read between the lines and see that that is not what took place here. Nokia doesn’t suddenly say we can’t afford to buy someone a race ticket, or let them keep a phone or go back on promises to meet Olympic athletes etc… It is obviously a case of over promising and under-delivering, and miscommunication. A Junior person clearly didn’t see the importance of managing the relationship. I don’t think this is the sort of relationship that warrants “cold hard cash upfront” so you clearly don’t get it on many levels. She did have an agreement, she didn’t need a contract; just needed promises to be kept. Next you’ll be telling her she should have drawn up a Memorandum of Understanding… purrrlease! …
and she wasn’t “donating her media for free”. I too would do a race if I could get a phone, kit, meet famous athletes, raise my profile and have trains/hotels etc… etc… paid for. She agreed to the work on the basis of things she was happy to accept – that’s her prerogative. Also, she was not a runner before, so there was the novelty factor too, which was going to make it even more fun for all parties. Mission took all the fun out of it it would seem, and Bangs had to motivate and drive herself, which she did with decorum!

Then along comes Anna @ Nokia UK who clearly knows how to communicate and is very definitely working in the correct field. Her apology is to the point and sincere, and is the reason I think Nokia has (in my opinion) come out of this unscathed. She still calls them “our agency” and doesn’t distance herself from them in any way. Very classy!

I totally agree with Koen at 10:36 a.m.

Before I read Erna at 10:37 a.m. I already knew that Nokia can and do, do better and she proves it. I think the fault [seems to] lie with the agency.

Clive at 10:48 a.m. you are so right.

Errrr Gridlock at 10:50 a.m. there were a lot more things than the ones you have listed…. I don’t know the speed readers of today eh?

Ritch at 10:53 a.m. 🙂

Adam at 10:53 a.m. I agree that Nokia wouldn’t have known.

And along comes @JamesLacey with his forklift to take everything to a whole new level. Let’s bring his CV into the equation and name and shame the person he line manages. And then indirectly names and shames Bangs for having the cheek to write this post when she had already spoken to their MD. Not much of an apology and not great PR. He shouldn’t have been allowed to write that without showing it to his MD first and he should have followed Anna’s lead with her classy apology. He also should have been a bit more humble.

Then Nicola’s apology at 12:04 p.m. is more (I believe) for Nokia’s benefit, and probably to make up for the damage of her colleague’s poor apology earlier. But she is classy enough not to mention him.

Phil at 12:35. Never a truer word said 🙂

Anna at 12:38 I don’t think they are equally to blame. My feeling is that Nokia were unaware. They are too big a company to know every blogger on every campaign, in every country – being that they’re global ‘n’ all.

Eddy at 1:16 p.m. you are so right. Just like Joe’s was the comment I liked the least, this is the one I like the most.

Oh dear Nicola at 1:37 your first apology was nearly as classy as Nokia’s but you’ve made it so much worse with the second one. Don’t sweep it off as “occasionally people make mistakes” – I have had this said to me recently and it doesn’t help. Also, how can you say that “we” haven’t made excuses when @James Lacey made loads… maybe you are talking about the fact that he said “I won’t make excuses”….. it’s the content rather than what he labels it as that’s crucial…

Eddy at 1:46 you are right yet again in that they are feeding the flames 🙂

Great to see Ondo Lady here at 2:42 p.m. I met her on 12th May at the same event that I met Bangs at. Was completely unaware of this blog till then.
And Ondo Lady I agree with everything you have said.

Love China Blue’s response at 2:54. Thorough and heartfelt.

Nats at 3:49 so true.

@veritycash at 5:03 p.m. you are so right.

Claire Nelson at Oct 12th 10:58 p.m. I agree that people may not be fired but the chances are high that the agency lost the Nokia contract. She did say “might” twice and then said “potentially” – she knew it wasn’t a given… I do very much agree with your last sentence that things can only improve as a result.

Sarah T Oct 12th at 11:32 p.m. your comment made me LOL as I also noticed that Nicola didn’t seem to bother to read her colleague’s comment. Just like they didn’t keep up to date with Bangs they don’t seem to have kept up to date with each other 😉

I have enjoyed reading the comments as much as the post itself. Good on you Bangs to tell it how it is, and in such a professional factual way too, and good on you to now be into running as a result. You at least have got a positive outcome out of this 🙂

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Olivia

I think your email was very fair and frank. Well done and written. It’s a shame they did that to you. I work in social marketing and I pay a lot of attention to what you say as it’s very valid. In my opinion…their reply being that you could keep the phone? I wouldn’t even be bothered about it after. Not good enough I think.

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