The Power of Words
April 3, 2013
#MediaMonday – Marc Buckhout
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Not long ago I came across an article disguised as what I thought was just another over-blogged  “how not to pitch a reporter.”  What made me stop and read was a) it was by a local journalist I am familiar with and 2) it was a post for the Phoenix New Times, and pitching tips don’t really fall into their scope of coverage.

And boy-gee-whiz am I glad I read it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard of someone representing a brand commit a royal social media sin, and lawd knows how I love me a good comeback.

What happened:

New Times music writer Nicki Escudero was being spammed by someone trying to promote his band* by repeatedly messaging her on Facebook. When pointing out the ingenuity of the messages, the promoter/band member replied with some not-so-choice words, insulting Escudero and Arizona, apparently for good measure. Escudero reacted by reaching out to her music connections – including venue owners and fellow music influencers – and sharing the band promoter’s thoughts, ultimately blacklisting them from several Arizona and California gigs. Boom.

Read the whole thing here.   

The article didn’t offer any advice on how to better promote oneself as it seemed glaringly obvious what went wrong in the situation. But that wasn’t what got me thinking. That was the face the New Times readers’ reactions sided with, for the most part, the offending spammer.

Even though the majority of  the New Times’ quality of comments are up there down there with YouTube, I had to make sure I was reading people’s reactions right.

Siding with the name-calling band guy?

Just to get some things straight:

-He contacted her, so clearly he knew her influence on the music industry.

-Her first response to him was polite and appropriate. Her second response was the same tone, practically verbatim, and did not justify his insults.

-Rather than singling out the journalist, he insulted an entire state. A big one. With lots of people. Lots of people that will now not be exposed to his band, other than this viral display of grave digging.

So that leads me to my question:

When referring to journalist’s blogs or op-ed pieces, which do you think has the bigger impact on a brand: The journalist’s perspective, or how the public responds to that perspective? 

As a PR professional heavily involved in media relations, I tend to think what the media says is the most important as that is what informs the public. But what about when the Public – the big P, our true target – disagrees with the media? Obviously this is a big-time PR loss for the band. No one likes a name-caller.

In a follow up discussion with Nicki, she told me the band continued its insults on Twitter.

“A simple apology after the story broke would have helped their PR immensely and shown fans they do care about potential listeners and wanted to remedy the situation,” said Nicki. “Instead, they're content to keep arguing online -- which will definitely garner them more attention, but not in a good way.”

Girl, I couldn’t agree more.

*I refuse to list the band’s name or link to their content

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.


  1. Wow, Stephanie, thanks for this great post! I appreciate it. 🙂

  2. Jacob says:

    HA so cool

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