When Reuters reported Thursday afternoon that an unscathed Omarion was asking fans to pray for him as he made his way back to the States from London — the site of deadly terrorist bombings — somehow it just didn't seem like it could be real.
The story mentioned that unlike the hundreds of wounded and the more than 50 dead, Omarion had suffered no "inconvenience." It also pointed out that the singer's press release made no mention of the victims. Could it be that Omarion, who just happened to be in the same city at the time the bombs were detonated, was attempting to exploit a tragic event to drum up a little press — or worse, sympathy?
Of course not, according to Omarion's Web site. A post Friday morning attacked the piece, which had quoted the performer's alleged publicist, Shana Gilmore: "Statements and sentiments appearing in a Reuters-syndicated article and attributed to the American R&B singer Omarion were never made by the performer. Contrary to statements made in the article, Omarion is in no way affiliated with the firm AR PR Marketing nor is 'publicist Shana Gilmore' a legitimate publicist acting on behalf of the artist. Omarion regrets any confusion and sends his thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of this horrific tragedy."
Gilmore confirmed that she is not Omarion's publicist and said she did not issue a press release in his name. But while it may not have originated with Gilmore, it appears that a release of some sort was issued on behalf of the singer calling for fans' well wishes.
Before the Reuters piece, an Omarion press release popped up on the PR Newswire Web site, the self-proclaimed "global leader in news and information distribution services for professional communicators."
The release very simply stated that Omarion "was in London during the tragic bombings that struck [Thursday] morning. He would like his fans to pray that he has a safe trip and a safe return home. He appreciates your support."
A spokesperson for PR Newswire said press releases submitted to the company for national distribution require a fee of at least $635. In order to submit releases, one must be an "authorized sender" of such statements, and additionally, must maintain an annual membership to the company's Web site and services.
Before a release can be serviced for mass distribution to news desks and media outlets nationwide, and even before the release can be uploaded to PR Newswire's highly trafficked Web site, the company conducts exhaustive background checks to verify the source of the release, the spokesperson said. A different spokesperson for PR Newswire claims AR PR submitted the release for distribution.
AR PR publicist Shana Gilmore — who, when asked why Omarion needed to be kept in anyone's thoughts, was quoted by Reuters as saying, "He wasn't hurt or anything, but just the fact that he was there and all that" — claims she was misquoted. She added that she doesn't work with Omarion, and never has — even though, as her firm's Web site points out, AR PR handled the May 6 record-release party for his album, O.
Furthermore, she claims she told Reuters she was not Omarion's publicist. "This kind of sucks," she said. "I didn't make those quotes. This is sad and it hurts."
Omarion's publicist did not return calls seeking comment. Reuters spokesperson Steve Naru said the wire service stands by its reporting and its piece.