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Is it true that there’s a special layer of hell reserved for PR flack?

Esteban received this email yesterday… note the time stamp.

—–Original Message—–


Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2001 1:57 PM


Subject: Disaster Recovery Story Idea

Dear Esteban,

I’m writing on behalf of XXXXXX Telecommunications, Inc., a leading provider of world-class information technology (IT) infrastructure and managed service solutions for large, data-intensive FORTUNE 1000 enterprise companies. I thought you might be interested in the following story idea relating to yesterday’s events, and how it effects companies that handle mission-critical back-office IT systems and applications.

Tuesday’s tragic events will impact businesses that were located in the World Trade Center in a number of ways. One of the most significant is the loss of their mission-critical systems and data.(emphasis my own–Weetabix) A University of Texas study showed that of businesses that suffer a catastrophic data loss, 94% close within two years. Of those companies, 43% are forced to close at the time of the event, while 51% continue to operate for another two years before closing. This is a direct result of not having in place an effective disaster recovery program.

Of the 350 businesses operating in the World Trade Center before the 1993 bombing, 150 were out of business a year later. A major reason for this was the inability for these companies to recover their data during the two weeks that the FBI shut down the building to investigate the bombing. The companies that had contingency plans in place were able to quickly resume operations. This was not the case, however, for the 34% of businesses that did not have offsite backups.

Despite the need to have a contingency plan that mitigates the risk of losing mission-critical systems and applications during a disaster, 82% of major corporations do not have effective protection against such a loss. If you are working on a business story relating to this week’s events, and the impact it is having on the business community, we would be very interested in providing you our expertise on how companies can and have prepared contingency plans for unforeseen disasters.

If you are interested in speaking with XXXXX’s President and CTO, ########, please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.



Esteban replied back:

I am not interested.

I have to say that this isn’t the most sensitive e-mail I have gotten. You might have at least waited a couple of days before using this tragedy as a pitch.

The PR bastard wrote back, making yet more excuses about his email:

Dear Esteban,

I apologize for any harm I might have generated. I fully understand and appreciate the sensitivity of yesterday’s events. The fact of the matter is, I’ve been approached by several reporters looking for this particular angle for biz stories they are currently working on, and I thought it might be helpful to others. But you are right. As one reporter who called me yesterday said, he hates to be writing about anything relating to these tragic events, but he’s got work to do.

Again, please accept my sincere apologies. I will consider the timeliness of my approach from here on out.

Best regards, XXXX

Nothing like leveraging a tragedy to get a little free publicity for your company. The world of business must go forth, after all.

Apparently, after the planes hit the buildings, a reporter called up to the 89th floor of one of the towers where people were trapped and said “What’s going on up there?” The reply “We’re fucking dying up here…. click“.

John Irving, through the guise of Hester the Molestor in “A Prayer for Owen Meany” said it best.

“Television gives good disaster.”

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