Peterlee PR boss on Cutler case: “we’re a business not a charity”

The owner of an East Durham communications and design firm has spoken out about a recent high profile case involving a fundraiser’s non-payment of a PR bill.

Katie Cutler, the woman behind the fundraising campaign that raised over £300,000 for disabled mugging victim Alan Barnes, said she was “shocked” to have received an invoice for PR support she received.

The invoice, which fell just short of £6,700, was sent to Katie by communications firm Claire Barber PR, who had supported Katie for what was described as a “pre-agreed” £550-a-day rate.

The work included negotiation of an appearance by Katie on ITV’s This Morning programme.

Leanne English, who owns Peterlee-based LEC Consultancy, says her own business has been victim to similar situations where clients fail to pay or pay in full.

Leanne said: “The goal of every business is to be successful and, ultimately, make money – communications companies are no different.

“We do the work, we deliver results and, more often than not, exceed client expectations. So it’s not unreasonable for us to be paid for our efforts.”

Leanne said that in late 2015 her firm was commissioned to produce a brochure for a Newcastle-based software company, who refused to pay their bill in full.

She said: “We designed the brochure, edited the content and enlisted the help a professional photographer.”

“The client was keen to have the brochure ready for the start of the year, so we worked over the festive break to ensure we could meet the deadline.

“The 16-page brochure we designed was fantastic and the client was over the moon. Good job we thought.

“So in went our invoice and we had no reason to suspect there would be any issues receiving payment.

“However, the man at the helm, a role he subsequently left, had other ideas and actually refused to pay 40 per cent of the bill.

“What was even more astounding to us was that he queried the small mark up we’d put on to the print element of the project, choosing to ignore the fact that, in addition to the legwork we put in to get the best possible price from our suppliers, we went to personally collect the brochures and deliver them.

“That’s not to mention the fact we’re a business – does any business you know sell their products at the same price they buy them for? Of course they don’t. They mark up to make money.

“Communications companies are not charities. We don’t work for free and provide a service as valuable as any other.”