cleartrip blog
694 days ago
 

Realised your PR agency is spamming valuable contacts? Fire it and then tell the world

This is exactly what happened this week with Indian online travel agency Cleartrip - turning the tables on its retained agency by slamming it in a blog post just after terminating the partnership.

Cleartrip founder Hrush Bhat took to the company’s blog (Why we fired our PR agency) after discovering its agency, Buzz PR (part of the Perfect Relations network) had been using email addresses that the OTA had supplied for a previous initiative for other purposes.

Bhat says the task of firing the agency was “unpleasant”, but enough was enough as the agency apparently has a zero tolerance approach to spamming customers.

Buzz’s apparent naughty activity was brought to the attention of Cleartrip by someone (@jackerhack, via Twitter) who been previously given a sneak preview of the launch of Cleartrip’s mobile site.

Since that one-off event, Jackerhack (Kiran Jonnalagadda) has told Cleartrip that he was being spammed by Buzz PR with other material.

Cleartrip repeatedly told the agency to stop.

It turns out that Buzz PR had simply amalgamated all the email addresses of the Cleartrip contacts into its own database and had started blasting them with emails that had nothing to do with the OTA.

Requests to stop the practice being ignored and getting some heat on Twitter was obviously too much for Cleartrip and Bhat, so at the close of business on Tuesday this week the agency received an email telling it the partnership was terminated.

Bhat says:

“We’re drawing a line in the sand here — we do not and will not spam our customers. Ever. And we certainly will not tolerate any of our partners spamming them. We’re only sorry we gave them three strikes, we should have fired them sooner.

“And to everyone else that ever received spammy emails from Buzz PR because we shared your email address with them, we’re deeply sorry. None of our future partners will ever make this mistake again.”

Some might wonder why Bhat was forced (as the saying goes) wash its dirty laundry in public – surely ending a partnership suddenly is punishment enough?

But this is the world of the open web, where the trigger for Bhat’s anger indeed came via social media – so therefore (especially given the reaction – 365 to date – to his article) perhaps it is now appropriate to end it – very publicly – via social media and the company blog.

NB: The agency, via sister company Perfect Relations, did not respond to requests for comment.

 
 
Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

 

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  1. Tinu Cherian

    This is how I read the whole story,

    Cleartrip gave a list of bloggers to BuzzPR for their campaign. Agency reused it without permission for other campaigns. CT pissed off.

    Blogger complained. CT warned the agency. Agency perhaps didn’t take it seriously ( It is a grave mistake), Continued to re-use. Got fired ! CT just blew its own trumpet.

    The Agency may be considered unprofessional as it abused data that was given. Termination of services after repeated warnings was the discretion of the client. But Cleartrip was equally (or more) unprofessional in how the issue was handled. A code of ethics and business practices were broken by both.

    ” Don’t spam my customers” (which was actually “Don’t spam my bloggers mailing list”)
    which was (probably) intended to gain the sympathies of the common
    people.

    Read more the story and my thoughts here http://dreamingcherries.com/2012/12/how-did-cleartrip-mishandle-the-firing-of-its-publicrelations-agency-buzzpr/

     
  2. Yatra

    What Cleartrip? You should be at least clear on who to hire as your PR agent :D

     
  3. Makemytrip

    It is a question of ‘who owns the email DB’. Cleartrip needs to own it and not its agency . If they give the email DB to agency they are equally to blame and cleartrip is not innocent if you look at discussions on the Indian Blog at http://www.nextbigwhat.com/forum/discussion/1550/why-is-cleartrip-trying-to-be-aggressively-defensiven and they are trying to use the opportunity to gain more PR

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @maketrip

      Yes, read that… Interesting.

       
    • Gilda Steiger

      Having worked at an agency where the client owned its database, which was kept separate and apart from any other client’s db, I believe that Cleartrip is not to blame in assuming that their database would never be used for any use other than for their own marketing purposes. I’m sure they’ll ask the correct questions in the future.

       
 
 

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