After I wrote a Primarkgate blog supporting embattled BBC Panorama journalists and tweeted about it, a person from the multinational's PR firm got in touch. Then the Guardian national UK newspaper followed up this crude attempt to dupe us.
"Kat" emailed The-Latest to let us know about the "Primark Response" website that rubbishes the programme over its child labour claims. I later found that this came from Citigate Dewe Rogerson (CDR), which specialises in 24/7 "crisis communication". This how the company sells itself:
"When an issue does burst into the open, CDR steps in, providing counsel and implementing media strategies to minimise both short term commercial damage and long term impact on reputation. Sector expertise includes financial services, healthcare, retail, food and support services."
It adds: "CDR’s crisis and issues services include: issues horizon monitoring; crisis communications audits; writing crisis and issues communications manuals; crisis media training; scenario planning workshops; developing communications strategies, position statements and Q&A documents; direct liaison with the media during crises through 24/7 press offices and, when required, acting as company spokespeople."
Here is the email sent to The-Latest:
We noticed that you had previously written about Primark and the BBC’s Panorama programme that made allegations about child labour. We hope you don’t mind us getting in touch with you to let you know about our site, which you may want to blog or tweet about…http://www.primarkresponse.com/panorama/.
The site contains a video explaining Primark’s case, which we hope you’d be interested in checking out. Primark responded to Thursday’s verdict from the BBC Trust about the 2008 Panorama programme: “Primark on the Rack”, which claimed to show three young boys being used to manufacture clothes sold in Primark."
"After three years, a lengthy investigation by Primark and a comprehensive review by the BBC Trust, the Trust has confirmed that the programme was based on fabrication and littered with poor journalistic practices."
"We’ve created a microsite, which The video is hosted on YouTube, so youcan also embed the code on your site if you would like to…<iframe width="560"height="349"src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/hUSsG_tDDY0?rel=0" frameborder="0"allowfullscreen></iframe>
If you need anything extra, please get in touch.
Thanks Katerina Hejralova. I trust you are being well-paid as Primark's spin doctor.