Many members reached out to us this month when they saw the Stuff digital banner advert, “They say PR. We say BS.” This ad was being used to encourage subscriptions to Stuff’s new paywalled regional papers.
Our Board was equally shocked and offended by this advert as you, our members, were. We wrote to the Stuff management team stating our concerns that:
- We are offended by the implication that the material our profession provides to media is bullshit, or, as the Oxford Dictionary defines it, ‘untrue nonsense’ that is meant to ‘deceive.’
- They had crossed the line by calling into question the integrity of our membership and our industry as a whole.
- Stuff was using an attack on the PR/communications profession to sell subscriptions.
We asked Stuff to pull the advert. The following was their reply:
“Apologies for the delay in coming back to you regarding your letter. I’ve been in touch with our marketing team and they have advised that the creative for the Waikato Times ad has been swapped out to another execution as part of a planned rotation. The ad was not intended to take aim at PR people specifically, but to communicate the essential role of the media in holding the powerful to account. We apologise if this caused any offense to the industry as our people have great relationships with many PR people across the motu.”
The board was not satisfied with this response and asked once again for them to provide assurance the advert would not run again in their ‘planned rotation.’
The final response Stuff provided was: “We have noted your concern and request, but have nothing further to add.”
We won’t be communicating further with Stuff at this time, but we certainly will be waiting to see if it decides to run the advert again.