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For the second time in two weeks, someone tried to bribe City Paper to snuff a story. First it was the “Blunder Boys.” Now it’s Steak-umm.
Rule No. 1: If you offer money in exchange for killing a story, it will be reported.
After Y&H published a seemingly harmless round-up of factoids about the sandwich steak company whose food truck is rolling through D.C. this week, a grammatically challenged publicist from The Avenue West reached out:
Jesse on CC here is the lead PR for Steak-umm and let me know that there were some major issues on the Steak-umm side. Is there any way to pull the story? I will match your total fee so that you don’t lose out on the income just let me know what it was and I will personally take care of it. Please let us know as soon as possible I really appreciate it as it’s quite urgent with the client.
Perhaps they confused City Paper with “paid editorial” enterprises.
Those “major issues” were not factual errors, but simply bits of information the company didn’t love, despite the fact that feedback to the story was overwhelmingly positive and its intention was to inform readers that the food truck was coming to town. “It takes me back to my youth,” was how people reacted to the story.
“Jesse” mentioned in the above email from Allebach Communications forwarded along an internal email between publicity firms detailing exactly what they didn’t like:
Good afternoon – I hope your week is going well. This was not the type of publicity we were hoping for… Is there anything we can do to retract this story?
#3 – Making mention of “emulsified” and “pink slime” is not a good thing and the exact opposite of what we wanted to have out there. We wanted people to understand that it’s 100% beef…
#4 – why even link to what the judge said? Again the exact opposite of the type of mention that we wanted!
#8 – “the west coast isn’t feeling Steak-umm quite as much”…. Why mention this?
#10 – I don’t get this one at all. We simply suggested that Steak-umm was parodied on SNL and thought it was funny.
I expected so much more from the PR angle here and it simply has not generated ANY buzz aside from the Huffington Post articles. This has been a huge disappointment and this particular piece was the icing on the cake.
What can we do immediately to remove this story? My client is not happy about this in particular. I attached the list that we provided. Thanks.
Icing on the cake!
Update: Nina Ojeda, the public relations professional who offered City Paper money in exchange for killing the story (after pitching Y&H about the Steak-umm truck coming to D.C.) supplied the following statement. “The Avenue West does not represent Steak-Umm and is not associated with Allebach Communications. Steak-Umm did not request money to exchange hands in any way in regards to the story.”