Public Relations

PRCA receives Fuel PR complaint after ‘real life’ media story featured staff member under pseudonym

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

August 19, 2015 | 3 min read

PR agency Fuel is in hot water after it supplied the Press Association with a misleading story detailing how a women called Esme de Silva overcame her sweating problem with the aid of Odaban antiperspirant.

Receiving coverage in the Huffington Post, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Metro among others, the story was pulled after it emerged De Silva is actually a Fuel senior account executive called Leandra Cardozo.

Adding further fuel to the flames, undisclosed by the firm was the fact that the agency was last year appointed by Odaban.

Gillian Waddell, managing director at Fuel, told PR Week that all the information issued to PA was correct except the name of the individual supposed to be represented in the ‘real life’ story. Waddell claimed anonymity was provided to Cardozo with the name change due to the nature of her condition.

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Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA, said: “I can confirm that a complaint has been received against Fuel PR under the PRCA Codes of Conduct and Professional Charter. The complaint is from Mr Adrian Wheeler, FPRCA.

“In handling this matter, the PRCA will follow the procedures laid out in its regulations.”

Following investigation from the Professional Practices Committee, complaints to the PRCA can result in sanctions and membership censure or termination. For minor breaches the committee can offer “warnings, admonishments or reprimands”.

The story has been pulled from the media outlets and the PA has reimbursed media outlets for the gaffe.

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