8 signs of a bad PR firm

A majority of PR agencies operate on the up-and-up, but there are a few bad actors out there. Watch out for these red flags.

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Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO
 of marketing consulting firm Mavens & Moguls, was burned by a PR practitioner about five years ago. Arnof-Fenn said this person went behind her back to try to steal one of her clients. But the theft plot wound up backfiring: Arnof-Fenn kept the client.

“It was not a misunderstanding or miscommunication. It was a blatant unethical business practice, plain and simple,” Arnof-Fenn said.

Looking back, Arnof-Fenn regrets that she didn’t thoroughly vet the PR person she wound up hiring. For instance, Arnof-Fenn failed to check the person’s references; instead, she relied solely on the person’s word.

“The PR community is 
actually pretty small, and it turns out this person had a trail of lies and
 deception, so if I had done a better job of talking to people who we both 
knew, I could have been warned,” she said.

Certainly, Arnof-Fenn isn’t the only client who’s ever been duped by a PR practitioner or PR firm. But her experience underscores the need to put your trust in upstanding PR professionals. Fortunately, most PR folks are competent and talented. Yet to pretend as if bad apples don’t exist in PR would be shortsighted.

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