walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

BM and client transparency

Lyons' work on BM and the failed whisper campaign continues over at The Daily Beast:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-13/facebook-and-pr-agency-spar-over-anti-google-smear-campaign/

There's a link in there to BM's press release, which states in part:

"The client requested that its name be withheld ...this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle."

Here's PRSA:

http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish/index.html

Which says in part:

"Reveal the sponsors for causes and interests represented."

and as an example of Improper Conduct: "A member implements "grass roots" campaigns or letter-writing campaigns to legislators on behalf of undisclosed interest groups."

BM does _precisely_ that _all the fucking time_. The fact that BM felt a need to qualify "transparency about clients" to "when talking to the media" (after all, it's okay to lie to everyone else, as long as the media is In On It?) tells you more than anyone really needs to know about who the bad guy is in the room.

Here's the translation for anyone having difficulty following the shorthand that is the inside of my head:

A PR company, Burson Marsteller, was hired by Facebook. Facebook wanted Google's Social whatever to attract some media attention, you know, to share the wealth of media attention to privacy concerns that FB enjoys. BM tried to convince USA Today and some bloggers to place stories about a "problem" with google's service (a completely fictional problem, as it turns out, itself an example of Improper Conduct according to PRSA). USA Today and others declined (because of the fictional aspect). Lyons decided to find out who hired BM to do this. He succeeded and FB confirmed it. Only then did BM admit they were hired by FB and at that point, BM decided to blame FB for the resulting embarrassments. (Makes you wonder who puts together the damage control campaigns for BM.)

BM's campaign was hamhanded -- but their campaigns usually are. They're a lot like my compulsively and conveniently untruthful sister that way. People dumb enough to continue as Jehovah's Witnesses after how many rounds of failed predictions about the End of the World? believe stories told by my sister, but ordinary folk tend to see right through that crap. Similarly, BM's campaigns (Smokers' Rights!) are quite obviously bullshit. But BM is used to a deal where Philip Morris doesn't say, yeah, we hired them to do that and we probably shouldn't have and we didn't really expect them to do _precisely_ what they wound up doing. BM is used to a deal where everyone spends interminable time skirmishing in discovery and then a sealed settlement before trial or FOR SURE before a conviction.

I'm betting the partners at BM are in some sort of state of shock at the idea that FB would be that brazenly _honest_ about the whole thing once the shit hit. It must feel the same way the bankers on Wall Street feel when, say, Microsoft decides to do a deal to buy Skype for $8 billion plus -- and not involve any bankers. I mean, that's just not the way we do things around here! Who do they think they _are_ anyway?! Normally, BM and company would threaten to blackball FB and could reasonably expect them to toe the line. Not this time. I don't see FB hiring any of the Old Skool PR firms after this. We Won't Work For You Ever Again! Wait, what do you mean you won't ever hire us again. What?
Tags: scandal
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