Perhaps you’ve heard by now the report that Facebook hired the international PR firm Burson-Marsteller to spread negative stories about competitor Google. This type of behavior is neither public relations, nor is it ethical.
Burson-Marsteller has been experiencing a public backlash for its part in the affair, including postings on its Facebook business page, which it originally got caught deleting, making matters even worse.
For it’s part, Facebook said “no smear campaign was authorized or intended …” , rather, they stated they were just trying to get “third parties” to set the record straight about unauthorized use of their Facebook information on Google. Even if Facebook’s complaint was legitimate, it was derailed because of the unprofessional manner in which is was handled. Burson-Marsteller apparently pitched stories without revealing who their client was. If Google has been stealing content from Facebook, there are more direct, legal actions Facebook could have taken, and the news reporting would flow from that action.
Those of us who have spent our lives carving legitimate careers in the public relations profession are appalled by this kind of behavior. Members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) are bound by a Code of Ethics that prohibit smear campaigns of this sort and other actions that would not stand up to the light of day.
“Transparency” is a word that is overused these days, but this is one case where it applies. If you have something to hide in your marketing and PR efforts, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s unethical. We’re all about finding the great stories that every business has that will naturally and ethically promote a business.
There’s never a need for this kind of underhanded business. Instead of lifting Facebook’s profile, this campaign has damaged the reputation of Facebook and Burson-Marsteller, and it has hurt the image of all of us who try to run legitimate public relations businesses and careers.
Photo: by IrisDragon