Just as KCMO Mayor Sly James’s spokesman had to take an arrow this week for his boss, a PR person working on the Walmart account also took a bullet for her agency/client.
Stephanie Harnett, a PR person with the Mercury Public Affairs Group hired by Walmart, posed as a reporter and infiltrated a closed press conference held by a labor group that opposes a Walmart store in Los Angeles. Harnett said she was a student so she could get into the press conference.
She later attended another press conference hosted by the union, but this time she passed out her business cards. When her identity became public her agency fired her and Walmart quickly distanced itself from her.
Hartnett’s actions are commonplace in PR circles. However, most agencies would have actually hired a student or an intern to infiltrate the press conferences and gather information about the opposition. Since Hartnett got caught her employer and client were forced to disavow her actions.
And folks think PR is easy…