As many people know, I’m a vocal advocate for the value of PR. Hell, I wouldn’t be doing my job at PRSA if that weren’t the case, and it’s something I sincerely believe in. Yet from time to time, like most folks, I get down about certain aspects of the business. This is the story of one of those moments.
And it has to do with the growing use of online reputation management firms and the increasing prevalence of spurious tactics some of these firms are using. I point to two recent articles in The Times of London (sub req’d) as exhibits A and B. But you don’t have to look far to find other examples. Continue reading →
Mere weeks after the PR world was shocked with news of unethical product review practices of client-developed iPhone apps by Reverb Communications, the profession is again faced with revelations of supposedly unethical practices, this time stemming from the undisclosed use of paid spokespeople by the toy industry as supposedly third-part, objective experts on local TV newscasts throughout the country, as Los Angeles Times media columnist Jim Rainey chronicled last week.
This glaring example of ethical misgivings from the toy industry brings clear an ugly truth in the new world of public relations: what is often best for the client is increasingly winning out over what is most ethical and best for consumers.
And that’s bad news for anyone serious about seeing the profession evolve and thrive. Continue reading →
Last Thursday (Aug. 26), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Reverb Communications had settled charges alleging that the public relations firm had engaged in deceptive advertising practices by having its employees write and post positive reviews of clients’ games in the Apple iTunes Store, without disclosing that they had been compensated to do so.
The settlement brings to a close the Commission’s first case under its revised “Guidelines on the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” which took effect Dec. 1, 2009.
Those guidelines state, in part, that advertisers (in this case Reverb) are subject to liability for failing to disclose material connections between themselves and their endorsers. In a section entitled, “Disclosure of Material Connections,” the guidelines state that: Continue reading →