Image by pythonboot via FlickrI'm not sure how many silver coins are worth a gold one, but let's just put it at 30 for the sake of a decent headline.
It's a fine day when Emirates Business 24x7 is the only newspaper to expose a company that blatantly offers journalists the gift of gold for turning up to a press event, but that's precisely what reporter Dima Hamadeh did today. Her story 'outs' the World Gold Council and its PR company for sending a press invitation that promises all attendees to a WGC media event would receive a gold coin.
When taken to task by Hamadeh, the account manager at the agency responded with: "Why does it offend you? We have done it for years, not only for award announcements but for other events by the WGC as well."
The appropriate note of contrition perhaps lacking there, then...
Another PR person quoted in the story tells Hamadeh that "A lot of journalists call to know what they would be getting as a gift..."
Now that's news to me - in my 12 (grief) years in public relations I have never been asked by a journalist what gift is on offer at an event. In fact, I just checked around the Spot On office, and nobody else has, either. I can tell you that the answer to such a question would be very short indeed.
What on earth is the point of even wasting time talking to a roomful of journalists who have just pitched up to collect their bribe? What's the value of the debased coverage they would give you in their debased media? Besides, if you can own them enough to travel across town and listen to you for an hour for a coin, just send them the damn coin and the rubbish you want them to publish and save everyone some time, no?
The Middle East PR Association, MEPRA, stipulates a limit of $50 for media gifts - set as a reasonable limit for a small gift expected to represent a token of appreciation or thanks. The limit was set in response to a growing culture of outrageous attempts to bribe media, including gifts of consumer electronics such as games consoles, mobile phones and DVD players.
But gold coins are so much subtle, don't you think?
Now. Which publications have covered the World Gold Council jewellery design competition, Auditions? And can their journalists confirm they didn't take the coin?