Aug 12, 2016

Rockstar PR & Literary Nightmare


First let's start with the facts, because I've gotten a lot of text messages and DMs about this since last night:

1. Yesterday, an email was sent from Rockstar PR & Literary Consulting to an undisclosed amount of bloggers to help promote a new Bella Forrest title. I actually deleted the email because I get a lot of emails daily from PR companies I don't know asking me to help promote a book/author for them. I don't have time for it. I don't.

2. At 8:54 PM last night, I received an email with the subject saying "My Apology for HUGE Error". Curious, I opened it and inside was an email from a publicist at Rockstar PR apologizing for sharing personal and sensitive information in a previous email that day.

Of course, at this, I got curious, and dug the old email out of my trash bin and read it. It was a generic book pitch (the second I'd gotten about the same book from 2 different publicists at RPL that day, mind you) but at the bottom was an attachment that said "Ya Bloggers". Clicking on it opened a spreadsheet with information on over 200 bloggers.

Information like names, home addresses, and fun little comments about said bloggers. Some even had phone numbers listed.


And yes, I was on said list.

3. I freaked the freak out. This email went out to an undisclosed list and amount of bloggers and readers. All these people now have my personal information. There are bloggers listed on here that haven't been active for years like The Story Siren and IB Book Blogging. 

4. I've always been super careful about who has my info. The only people who have it are publishing houses and 2 PR companies I've worked with where I know people personally at both places. That's it. So how in the world did a company I've never heard of suddenly know where I lived?

5. Several other bloggers and myself figured out based on dates and the comments and who the publicist who sent these emails out, that she worked at Penguin and Little, Brown. She was a publicist there who likely took contact lists with her when she left.

That's not OK.

I gave a publisher permission to use my address. Not a random employee I'd never worked with permission to take my info with her when she quit. It's a violation of privacy and I'm pretty sure it's illegal.

Moral of the story ... I don't even know. I work with publicists and publishing houses a lot. I don't blame them for what happened; for an employee stealing private documents. 

I don't even blame the publicist for making a human error. It was an accident. It was an unfortunate accident that could still have disastrous consequences for a lot of people. But it was a mistake.

My issue is that Rockstar PR & Literary Consulting had no rights to my personal information at all. I never gave consent for them to contact me. A lot of bloggers never gave their permission or consent to work with this company.

So I would be careful if you're someone who works with them or wants to work with them. At the very least use a PO Box address. 

*Please note that Rockstar PR & Literary is NOT affiliated with Rockstar Book Tours at all. In fact, when Rockstar PR started, Rockstar Book Tours (who had already been around and well established) contacted them about changing their name so as not to confuse people. Rockstar PR declined.*

For the list of affected blogs, go here: http://theirishbanana.blogspot.com/2016/08/rockstar-pr-literary-list.html

20 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh this is horrible!! :0 I am so sorry this happened to you.

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  2. So, I opened the attachment now that I know what email it was in and the address listed for me is quite old. Like, 3+ years ago. I feel like this is very negligent and deserves a bit more than a contrite, sorry, email. I mean, working in the health field now - if PII or PHI had been breached at my job, we would be facing massive fines from the government, lawsuits, and a breach disclosure. I just feel so horrified by the situation. People can be beyond the pale these days, so I would hate for some rando to have my address even though I do live in a nice neighborhood and with a cop.

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  3. Yikes :-/ That is a mistake of epic proportions. So sorry you had to deal with that. I VERY rarely give out my address to anyone other than publishers either and I'm SO picky about which ARCs I choose to accept / tours I agree to be a part of and it's so scary that still isn't enough apparently.

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  4. OMG.. It is really nightmare.. I feel sorry for you Hannah.. Thank you for sharing. I started to think about po box address..

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  5. Like you, I had deleted the email until I got the apology. I was shocked to see my address because I had NO idea who these people were. It's scary that so many people now have my home address which I've been SO careful not to disclose to anyone other than publishing houses I trust. This is horrifying. So so horrifying.

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  6. This is quite scary. I don't like giving my personal information out at all unless it's a publishing house that I've worked with before. This is definitely not good. I hope that this all gets sorted out.

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  7. That is TERRIBLE! I hope that everyone is safe. I'm a small blogger, so I haven't gotten a lot of review requests. I only accept ebook copies because I don't want to give out my address. If I ever did start accepting physical copies, I would get a PO box because that way no one has my actual address. I hope that everything clears up!

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  8. Has someone contacted the publishing company she used to work for? Taking confidential info like this is very illegal and I'm sure they'd want to know.

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  9. Wow, that is scary! Sorry this happened to you and other bloggers. I hope everyone reads this!

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  10. So scary and disgusting at the same time! Now I feel the need to check my trash as well! I have had so many unsolicited emails requesting me to review books that I have also looked into why this is. I found something completely different than this. There is a website that has lots of blogger info on it as well (no personal details that I am aware of). These kinds of tactics are so distressing and I agree that the actions of one person shouldn't make us distrust, but now there is just one more thing to worry about. :(

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  11. I spoke with Hannah already, but I just want to say for anyone else reading that I have cancelled my contract with the company. I'm horrified by what happened.

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    Replies
    1. I am horrified on your behalf and will be buying both books. They sound great.

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  12. This is just horrible. So sorry this happened to you and all of the other bloggers on the list!

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  13. I am so sorry to all my fellow bloggers that this happened to, this is scary and awful!!! It definitely makes you more hesitant to give out your information. It will make me question how many I give that information out to in the future. :/

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  14. Yikes. I got an email from them, but not THIS one. That's horrible. Barely anyone has my address because I don't request many ARCs, but, yes, I gave my address to the PUBLISHING HOUSE, not to any specific employee. I highly doubt they're supposed to take this information for their personal (or personal business) use.

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    1. I don't know if there's a specific rule against it, but it's frowned upon, yes. And that's the issue - our addresses never had any reason to be on her personal laptop.

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  15. As someone who used to work for a book publisher and who used to blog, beyond this one person sending out information by mistake, I don't understand the big deal. Bloggers are professional contacts for marketing and publicity folks. It's not unusual, in any industry, to take your professional contacts with you when you leave to continue using. I've never heard of this being illegal. Is it frowned on by the company you're leaving? Sure. Could you be opening yourself up for a lawsuit if you're taking proprietary information? Absolutely. Blogging might be a hobby to people, but you're working with professional companies to sell books and if you don't want people to know your personal information you shouldn't share it.

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    1. I think the issue comes in because we gave our information to a publishing company, which its employees are free to use at work, in their offices. What's not OK is taking our info beyond that job. Or, at least not the amount of info.

      I get not wanting to start from scratch at a new job and wanting to keep the contacts you've built, but then take a list of names, blogs and email addresses. This information was stored on the publicists' personal computer, which they admitted.

      My home address that she used to contact me about work should never have been on her home/personal computer. That's where the issue came into play. Our home addresses never, ever had a reason to be on her personal laptop.

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  16. Both keeping that list of contacts and disclosing them definitely violates privacy and compliance laws set down by (at least) big 5 publishers. Is there any way to reach out to PRH or HBG?

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