Hilton denies report that it’s cutting ties with USA Today

Dear Gannett PR: It’s in your best interest to say more than “No comment” these days.

Someone who is fairly well-known in the publishing field is spreading a report that “Hilton [Hotels & Resorts] is about to cancel their contract” with USA Today” and that “serious panic and scrambling [are] going on inside Gannett as we speak.”

The source claims that an exec was fired after “something went horribly wrong” with the negotiations.

I asked USA Today director of communications Heidi Zimmerman about this report, figuring she’d call B.S. if it was way off base. This was her response:

“We don’t comment on or confirm the status of any customer or partner relationship.”

Really? That’s the best you can do?

I then contacted Hilton and got a call back from Scott Carman, Director of Communications/Customer Marketing. “The source is wrong,” he said. Hilton will “continue to have a relationship” with USA Today.

UPDATE: Carman sent this email on Tuesday afternoon:

Following up on our conversation, I wanted to circle back and confirm for you that yes our hotels will continue to receive hard copies of newspapers.

* Money manager AllianceBernstein boosts Gannett stake to 9.6%