PR payola? Journalists, come to our press event and pocket £100 worth of stuff

As a former freelance tech writer Michael Cross is used to being offered freebies.

But he raised his eyebrows at this invite to attend a retail promotional event for journalists:

Hi Michael

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the HoMedics Christmas in July event at Ice Tank in Covent Garden (3rd July, 12 noon-8pm):

  • Audio speakers and headphones from Jam and House of Marley
  • Salter kitchen and bathroom collections along with new products from Heston Blumenthal
  • HoMedics massage and health range
  • Beauty gadgets from Elle Macpherson

You’ll also take home a luxury goody bag worth over £100.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Erm…isn’t that sort of thing frowned upon in these post Bribery Act days?

A spokesperson for the PR firm involved, Pegasus, said:

We are showcasing a huge range of products and want to give journalists samples so they can try the products for themselves and accurately review them for any upcoming features.  This is made clear in conversations with the attending media before the event, and of course such reviews will be based on their personal experience, whether good, bad or indifferent.

Axegrinder understands that the goody bag contained “digital weighing scales, a mirror, a wireless speaker and a thermometer”.

According to Cross, who is nowadays news editor of the Law Society Gazette, this is not particularly lavish by the standards of such things. He said: "The problem with advertising the monetary value is that it seems to be admitting that large numbers of people who do the Christmas in July shows do it to collect stuff to flog on Ebay."

I’m told that next Wednesday Amazon holds its Christmas in July event, at which it generally gives journalists a £50 voucher. The year before last they apparently gave out free Kindles.

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