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TechDay severs ties with Archetype: A cautionary tale of mismanagement & unethical requests
Wed, 4th Oct 2023

In a shocking turn of events, TechDay is severing its 17-year-long relationship with the PR agency Archetype, a collaboration that once flourished when the agency was known as Text100. This partnership, which has spawned approximately 810 news stories, now finds itself in tatters, marred by unprofessionalism and unethical requests.

At TechDay, we have always held our relationships with Comms and PR agencies in high regard. Our recent PR agency surveys have shown a growing appreciation for our team, with a staggering 96% of PR agencies rating their experience with us as on par or better than with our competitors. Our most recent survey showed 59% of respondents rated us ‘better than most’.

However, our longstanding relationship with Archetype's branches in Singapore and Australia has taken a nosedive, leaving us both astonished and disappointed. The crux of the matter lies in an unethical request from Archetype, asking us to rewrite a brief as if it were our original idea, only for it to be pitched back to their client, a renowned global vendor of barcode printers, scanners, and RFID devices.

This request, which we perceive as a blatant attempt to deceive their client, left us deeply uncomfortable. Despite our repeated objections and attempts to clarify the rationale behind this request, Archetype remained unyielding. It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to reject nearly ten thousand dollars of sponsored content funding, a move unprecedented in TechDay's 17-year history.

Our experience has led us to the unfortunate conclusion that Archetype is failing its clients in more ways than one. Over recent months, we have grappled with their inability to send press releases and story pitches to the correct email addresses, a basic yet crucial aspect of public relations. This recurring issue has undoubtedly hampered client coverage, raising serious questions about the agency's competence.

Furthermore, Archetype's insistence on unnecessary meetings over trivial matters, which could easily be resolved via email, has been nothing short of exasperating. These seemingly pointless engagements, which often revolve around mundane topics such as dietary preferences, appear to be a tactic to inflate KPI results or billable hours at the expense of journalists' time (and maybe clients' budgets).

Adding to the list of grievances is Archetype's persistent disregard for our formatting preferences for press releases, often sending them in PDF format despite our repeated requests for email body text. This negligence, coupled with their incessant follow-ups sent to incorrect email addresses, paints a picture of an agency that is both unresponsive and inefficient.

Our final issue with Archetype is around how slowly their invoices are paid. At the time that this dispute arose in mid-September, June invoices were still unpaid by Archetype.

Two weeks ago, the situation escalated dramatically when Archetype threatened to appoint legal counsel in Australia and sue TechDay for sharing our side of the dispute. Mabel Chiang, Managing Director of Archetype Singapore, warned against "alleging fraud" and "threatening their ongoing relationship with clients and their reputation", asserting their readiness to "explore all legal options".

In our opinion, there is obviously no future for a public relations agency that threatens to sue media outlets that its clients are looking for coverage from.

In light of these developments, we find ourselves compelled to terminate our relationship with Archetype. We, as a publisher can’t trust them. It baffles us that reputable companies like Alibaba, Confluent, Palo Alto Networks and Oracle continue to entrust their PR needs to an agency that has proven to be subpar at best.

This experience serves as a stark reminder that not all agencies are created equal. In many cases, local agencies surpass their global counterparts in terms of quality and reliability. At the end of the day, the true value of a PR agency lies in its ability to foster positive relations with the media, a criterion that Archetype has sadly failed to meet time and time again.

Archetype was given two weeks to comment on a draft of this story and never responded.