PRNewser has learned that Propheta Communications, former agency for Peter Shankman‘s popular connect journalists with sources service, Help A Reporter Out (HARO), is in the process of filing suit against HARO’s parent company, Two Cats and a Cup of Coffee, LLC, owned by Shankman.
Propheta founder Kevin Mercuri tells PRNewser HARO is, “employing the age-old trick of trying to get out of a legally binding agreement. When less-than honorable folks don’t want to pay their bills, they disparage the vendor, saying that the vendor’s product or service is sub-par.”
Mercuri say he’s “disappointed” that HARO feels that “it’s somehow right to bash a company merely because they do not want to honor their contract.”
HARO denies any wrong doing. Shankman tells PRNewser, “HARO engaged Propheta Communications to handle public relations duties during the summer of 2009. After working with Propheta for several weeks, we decided to shift the direction of our communications strategy.”
Shankman says his firm discussed the change with Mercuri, with both sides agreeing “on a mutual release from our contract.” He adds, “[W]e believe Propheta’s allegations are without merit, and don’t believe this to be an issue.”
PRNewser first reported last Wednesday that HARO had parted ways with Propheta. The following day, a story appeared on Ragan.com that stated HARO had “quietly named” RLM PR as its “agency of record.”
In response to the Ragan.com post, PRNewser heard from RLM PR CEO Richard Laermer, who said HARO had concerns that Propheta, specifically that Mercuri, “would screw up the story for them.” Laermer says Mercuri, “did not understand HARO. Not one bit.”
If anything, there appears to be bad blood between RLM and Propheta. The background: Laermer once employed Mercuri, who left RLM to lead the Online and Technology division at 5W Public Relations as a Senior Vice President.