walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Redefining Naive for the 21st Century: Dan Lyons on Burson-Marsteller

I get my news fix from google news. That brought me this tasty tidbit:

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_18051110

It is about Facebook hiring Burson-Marsteller (a name that _should_ cause you to pre-emptively cringe). Facebook wanted Burson-Marsteller to publicize privacy issues associated with Google, presumably for the obvious reason (no, not because FB is seriously concerned about google and privacy issues, but because FB recognizes there is a competition going on and this is part of their process). FB did not want their name associated with this. BM tried to get a blogger to write something punchy; the blogger declined when the client wouldn't be named and then publicized the exchange. Then Dan Lyons of Newsweek got involved and id'd FB. Very nice piece of journalism, can be found here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-12/facebook-busted-in-clumsy-smear-attempt-on-google/#

"The mess, seemingly worthy of a Nixon reelection campaign, is embarrassing for Facebook...But even more so for Burson-Marsteller"

The whole idea that _this_ is unusually embarrassing for Burson-Marsteller, given their normal behavior, is so breathtakingly naive it defies belief. But I'm pretty sure Lyons isn't being sarcastic.

Years ago, Stauber and Rampton, the fine gentlemen who bring us PR Watch (never heard of PR Watch? Pity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PR_Watch), wrote a wonderful book called _Toxic Sludge is Good for You_ (which is still in print 15 years after I bought my copy). That's where I first heard about Burson-Marsteller. Because of that excellent book, I noticed Burson-Marteller as they popped up reliably, year in and year out, mostly in non-fiction of the expose variety but increasingly on news shows like TRMS. This whole incident is very, very minor when it comes to their wrongdoing.

When Lyons compares BM to the Keystone Kops, he isn't far wrong. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic that one of the benefits of the blog-journalism might be that BM will no longer be able to routinely get away with the crap they've been richly compensated for historically.
Tags: scandal
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