Premium rate phone numbers for press enquiries

I shamefully confess my ignorance of the above practice – however, a further comment (below) from Ian Murphy had me reaching to check that someone hadn’t dropped an acid tab in my coffee – have the lunatics finally taken over the PR asylum?

The premium rate/national rate number scam has been around a few years now.
Luckily it’s been confined to a small number of agencies but a couple of
large agencies are now giving it serious thought. One even said to me the
other day that it was to reduce the amount of time they spent dealing with
journo enquiries and to leave them more time to do the campaign stuff their
clients paid for. You can work out my response.



  1. I am so not going to ring any sort of premium number (though does 0870 count? The Microsoft press office has one).

    Hey, maybe I should make mine a premium. Then I’d be happy to hear from people. I’d keep them on the line, even.


  2. Isn’t talking to journalists part of the job in PR? What other stuff do they imagine is more important than keeping in touch with journalists?

    Presumably these agencies don’t charge their clients for time spent on the phone, if they’re charging the journalists. Charging both would be inethical.


  3. Think you’re confusing time and mechanicals there Sean…of course, if the agencies were charging both clients and journalists for the call costs, well that would be very naughty indeed.


  4. 087 numbers cost *up to* 10p a minute.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that the MS Press Office number is 10p a minute, mind.


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