Raleigh Report

July 21, 2014

PR firm issues fake Raleigh press release touting mayoral announcement

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane says she’s not scheduled to make any announcement Wednesday morning in City Plaza – contradicting a news release sent to the media Monday with the city’s public affairs letterhead.

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane says she’s not scheduled to make any announcement Wednesday morning in City Plaza – contradicting a news release sent to the media Monday with the city’s public affairs letterhead.

The news release – which came with a box of cookies – said that McFarlane would “make an announcement about a significant economic development and entertainment event coming to downtown Raleigh this fall. ... McFarlane and representatives of the Raleigh Convention Center will speak about an exciting new addition to Raleigh’s fall event calendar.”

The release, and the accompanying cookies, included a black-and-orange “X” logo similar to the logo for the Ray Price Capital City Bikefest, a downtown motorcycle festival scheduled for September.

The news release lists two media contacts: city spokeswoman Jayne Kirkpatrick and Scott Misner, owner of the Misner and Associates Public Relations firm. The release included the official letterhead of Kirkpatrick’s public affairs department.

While Kirkpatrick said her office had nothing to do with the release and knew nothing about it, Misner admitted that his firm was behind it.

“Let me figure out how we want to handle this,” he told a reporter Tuesday afternoon. “I will call you back with accurate, factual information.”

An hour later, Misner said his firm had been talking with the city public affairs department about the press conference – an announcement of new events at this year’s Bikefest – but that including the letterhead was “my mistake.”

“It should have come directly from me with no Raleigh public affairs information,” he said, adding that the rest of the release was “factual.” He wouldn’t say why the announcement boasted the mayor’s presence. “At no point has there been a lie told.”

Kirkpatrick issued a statement to the media on Tuesday saying that her letterhead and name was used “without permission.”

McFarlane said she was unaware of the news release until she saw a blog post about it on The News & Observer. She has no news conference on her schedule Wednesday, she said.

The mystery announcement appeared similar to two others the mayor made recently. In December, she scheduled a press conference to announce an unnamed performance at the PNC Arena, which she then revealed was a concert by Billy Joel. And in March, a cryptic “economic development announcement” planned by the mayor turned out to be her trip to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin to promote the city.

Misner said Wednesday’s Bikefest press conference has been cancelled.

“We took what we were trying to make a fun announcement, and it seems like it’s no longer fun,” he said.

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