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.
“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 is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has 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, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.