And All Through the House…

And all through the house, not a catalog was stirring, not even one from Abercrombie & Fitch!

Seeing that so many readers are going on vacation or getting intoxicated at office parties in the next few weeks, I’ll use this week’s PR Fuel to take care of some unfinished business and have some fun.

Abercrombie & Fitch Caves In

After being blasted by everyone from CNBC anchors and analysts to family groups to yours truly, retailer Abercrombie & Fitch said on Tuesday that it has “retired” its racy in-store catalog.

“Abercrombie & Fitch announced today that it has decided to retire the A&F Quarterly and will cease publication with the Christmas issue. While it has enjoyed success with the Quarterly over the years, the company believes it is time for new thinking and looks forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign in the Spring,” the company said in a statement.

This is called bottom line decision making: Abercrombie’s stock was falling fast and the heat from Wall Street was being turned up. This is a company that operates almost 700 stores and they were punished by the media, consumers and Wall Street for what amounted to a marketing gimmick gone bad. Imagine what this would have done to a smaller company. Poor Abercrombie, the problems aren’t even over yet.

CBS News’ “60 Minutes” profiled the company’s hiring practices last Sunday. As I mentioned last week, Abercrombie is the subject of two racial discrimination lawsuits regarding its hiring practices. The “60 Minutes” piece, from what I gather, concentrated more on the fact that the company hires people with a certain look and if someone doesn’t fit the Abercrombie image, they are either not hired or find their hours reduced. I didn’t see the segment, but I’ll bet that “60 Minutes” mentioned the lawsuits and the catalog debacle.

Remember, your PR and marketing strategies are closely tied together. I’m sure Abercrombie’s PR people were sick of fielding calls regarding the catalog, but they’re part of a team that makes up the entire company and thus, they have to handle everyone else’s mess. Remember this next time your company is about to launch a marketing initiative.

One Year Ago In PR Fuel

“A press release is a subtle piece of advertorial: a combination of advertisement and editorial content. We all know the point of advertising is to bring attention to a product, service and cause and turn the reader (watcher, listener, etc.) into a consumer, voter, volunteer or contributor. A press release is in one sense an advertisement, but in this case your audience is the media. You’re selling them an idea instead of a product though. So knowing that, consider your audience.

Journalists tend to have a command of the English language (myself excluded). We get bombarded with press releases and follow-up calls. We hear rhetoric from PR people, corporate executives and consumers all day. We’re overloaded with information and that means certain things grab our attention. Catch-phrases and buzz words however do not grab our attention.

The key to grabbing a journalist’s attention is simple: tell us the facts.”

Where Do They Get This From?

“This isn’t a public relations move.”

I keep hearing company spokespeople and executives say that in the media.

Is this defensive posturing? Or, is it cynical members of the media who believe everything is a PR move? If you send out a press release, does it automatically make it a “public relations move”?

Bad PR Trends I’ve Noticed

1. Press releases still being emailed as attachments.
2. Embedded images – product images and logos mostly – appearing in the body of emails.
3. PR people calling to leave a message, then calling back 10 minutes later.
4. No response when someone asks to be removed from a distribution list.
5. Firms still sending out hard copies of press releases via the mail.

Good PR Trends I’ve Noticed

1. More people pitching experts for trend stories (online shopping security, toy safety, etc.).
2. Better responsiveness to requests to try out a product before actually writing about it.
3. An understanding that when someone says, “Call me in a month,” they really mean it.
4. In general, I’ve seen better articulated arguments in the media far and wide. Less defensive and more aggressive.
5. Bacon’s has stopped asking me to update my information every two weeks.

Holiday Parties Everywhere!

I’ve received a slew of invitations to holiday parties thrown by both companies and PR firms. While it’s always nice to be remembered at this time of year, I won’t be attending any.

The main reason I won’t be going is pure and simple: I’m lazy. More importantly, I don’t relish the idea of being around a bunch of liquored-up PR people. And in all honesty, this is the time of the year where companies should celebrate their success and spend a few hours off the clock having some fun with each other. I’d feel like an intruder if I went to one of these parties.

It is nice to see that more companies and firms are having parties. Perhaps it’s a sign that business picked up this year? Have fun at your holiday parties and be safe – don’t drink and drive (or use the copy machine, or tell your co-worker what you really think about them!).

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (, a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

Comments are closed.