PR News apologizes to Wichita State University and the Shockers

WICHITA — It was a day late, but PR News has apologized for suggesting through an e-mail to PR executives nationally that they can “score big” in the industry if they “Don’t be like Wichita State.”

“On behalf of PR News, I wish to apologize to Wichita State University and its many basketball fans and supporters across the country for the reference to the university in our March 26 email solicitation,” wrote Diane Schwartz, senior vice president and group publisher for PR News in what appears to be an e-mail blast to the same people who received the initial e-mail on Wednesday.

“The subject line was inappropriate and reflected poor judgment on our part. We have taken steps to ensure such statements made in our email solicitations will not happen again,” Schwartz wrote. “Thank you for understanding that mistakes happen, even to those who serve the PR trade. We are humbled by the incident and appreciate your continued support.”

Late Wednesday evening, Schwartz also sent a note to Barth Hague, WSU’s associate vice president for university relations and chief marketing officer. She said, in part, “I and my team have the utmost respect for your university — and the Shockers –and please understand that we own up to this mistake in judgment.”

The mass apology was sent Thursday morning.

“I find it acceptable,” Hague says. “I know that others who have been talking to me from outside of the organization thought it was weak.”

Schwartz also e-mailed Have You Heard? Thursday morning. She referenced a quote from the previous story in which Teresa Veazey, president of the Kansas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, said, “PR News is supposed to teach us how to do our jobs better. Are they going to learn from their own mistake?”

“To answer the question at the end of your piece,” Schwartz wrote, “I would say that we have learned from this mistake and never intended to disparage an organization or brand. I hope the same is true for those upset at PR News.”

Hague thinks the issue must now end.

“There was not a lot of work being done yesterday by PR professionals across Wichita,” Hague says of the flurry of outraged e-mails and calls throughout the PR community. “I think we all need to get back to work today.”

There may be one lingering issue for Hague, though.

In PR News’ first brief e-mail apology to Hague on Wednesday, the organization’s vice president for marketing accidentally referred to him as “Beth.”

Hague continues to take some razzing over that.

In an e-mail to some local PR executives, WSU director of athletics Eric Sexton thanked them for being great members of the Shocker Family.

He added, “You guys rock and proved just what ‘Beth’ said…DO NOT go to war with the Shockers!”