Weber Shandwick: Say What You Mean Damnit!

Weber Shandwick Office

January 15, 2009

This PR blunder comes from a PR agency in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. According to the Yorkshire Post, Weber Shandwick, a local PR firm, was hired by a paint manufacturer Tor Coatings to be their PR.

Evidently the paint company did not need a PR firm that could write a press release, let alone provide a title for it, as the released title appeared like this:

“PR Agency gains new paint contract”

Evidently, Paul Bowers, director of this Weber Shandwick office, was so pleased he went on to toot the company’s horn further by speaking of landing other key clients in property, professional services, manufacturing and retail. No doubt these headlines read something like this:

  • PR Firm gains property deal in Yorkshire
  • Weber Shandwick Signs Professional Services
  • Manufacturing PR – Weber Shandwick Says; “We Can”
  • Retail Giant Turns Into PR Firm

Weber Shandwick Logo


Mistakes Happen – So Does Stupidity

Everyone makes mistakes, but the title of one’s own story should not make the reader decide if the company paints, makes paint or represents a paint company. Say what the hell you mean is our motto Shandwick Weber. Congratulations! You just won the Goof of the Day Award – International.

I know your bosses at Weber Shandwick will love the added visibility awards like this bring, but in case you did not write this release, I would make damn sure no one associated mine or my company’s name with it.

So everyone knows, Weber Shandwick is one of the most respected and largest PR firms in the world.


  1. Anon says

    You can certainly tell you guys work in PR. Great replies and fair comments.

    My beef was you were publicly criticizing the guy more than anything. You’d singled him out and I felt, given the original draft was littered with errors, this was grossly unfair.

    I accept you may have intended this to be light hearted but it just came across as arrogant to me.

    My original comment was pretty ignorant but I felt ignorance was on show here. What I said was harsh and it was purely based on my reaction to what I read. I apologize for any offence it may have caused and from your polite replies I don’t think either of you are bad people. So don’t be miffed.

    I’ve looked at your site a few times now and it’s very good. I certainly intend to check it out again in future.



  2. Mihaela Lica says

    Thank you for clarifying the issue for me, Anon. I assumed that you work for WS, since you live in UK.

    You know, I am pretty sure that the press release does not belong to Weber Shandwick… but unfortunately if you follow the link at the beginning of the article you’ll find the name of the company in the press release that triggered this entry.

    Anon, the entry doesn’t try to discredit the firm – it simply points out that the title of that press release might lead the reader into believing that WS got… a paint contract. A typo in a blog entry on a blog that has close to no readership at the moment is not as disastrous as a press release title that is meant to promote a company. You’ll probably find more typos in the future – including my own (I am not a native English speaker) but you will never find one in a press release I write for a customer, you can be sure of that.

    About defending Phil: I was not trying to defend him, he is a big boy – he can defend himself. I was trying to defend the purpose of the article.

    We both started on the wrong foot here, Anon. It’s good to see that eventually we can communicate in a civilized manner.

    Oh, the Goofy awards are so goofy that they can even be awarded to the writers of this blog. Every PR blunder we find, including our own, will be penalized. Fair is fair. :)

  3. Anon says

    I can assure you, Mihaela, I do not work for Weber Shandwick, so your comment regarding tracking IP addresses is nonsense and, I suspect, an attempt on your behalf to discredit the firm further and defend Phil. Has the firm done something to upset either of you in the past?

    I have absolutely no interest in Weber Shandwick. I simply read the article and thought “what a load of crap”, pondering whether or not the author had too much time on his hands, but concluding he clearly did not, as he would have proof read the piece prior to publishing.

    If you’re going to overtly criticize somebody / something – and don’t wish to appear stupid in the process – it would be wise to check your own work upfront; particularly when the subject you’ve chosen relates to the use / mis-use of the written word.

    I notice you’ve corrected the errors in the article since I made my, possibly uncalled for, comment. But, as you say, if you’re going to put your own name to something, best to make sure you’re 100% happy / comfortable with it.

    I apologize if my comment caused offense or upset you, however the title of your piece is “Say what you mean, damnit!” – so that’s what I did. If you don’t like it, you’ve only yourself to blame.

    • Phil Butler says

      Anon, Not mad at Weber Shandwick. Just pointing out goofs that many of us have made and still make. Some are obviously a good deal worse and more damaging to the profession. Not on anyone’s case actually, I intend to give our firm the award the next time we goof, just so you know. Still a little miffed at you for assuming I am a bad person for being critical. But, I accept that much of this appears callous. I assure you it is not tho.


  4. Mihaela Lica says

    I wonder which one of you geniuses at Weber Shandwick UK thought that an IP address cannot be followed? Instead of being offensive (yes, I had to edit your comment, the use of curses is not a practice we encourage at EverythingPR, nor is that of not having the guts to admit a mistake) why didn’t you just express your indignation in a decent manner?

    So yes, Phil missed an “s” in a sentence, but you missed the point. Even better: you proved that you indeed gained a new painting contract, for no educated PR in this world would dare to type in a message like yours.

    • Phil Butler says

      Dear Anon, I understand. A little ripple at the big farm there in the UK. I do have a tendency to do typos pretty frequently. It is my albatross. I apologize to the readers who take note of this flaw in my writing. There are many more I am sure. I even make mistakes of other kinds too. However, when I make one, and see it, I apologize or correct them as best I can. I think most of us do this actually. There are, a mighty few however, who resort to the basal, curt and primitive in all things critical of them. Those who think they are above reproach, those who simply do not care, and those who have neither the upbringing nor moral fortitude to be transparent. I pity these types of people.

      I pity you sir/maam. A big person would have come here and simply admitted that this headline was bad. A big person would do so giving their own name. But really big people are hard to come by these days. Instead we are crowded and pummeled daily beneath the hooves of beasts who are too cowardly and shallow to even acknowledge tiny flaws. The end of these people is a bitter one. I am sorry the point and the humor of this article was overshadowed by my typos. Still another reason for me to work on them, point well taken.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *