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One Really Bad Review

September 14, 2010

Now, I’m not delusional enough to believe that all public relations practitioners operate with the same moral compass as I would but I was pretty disappointed when I found out that there are some that are just downright, what’s the word, DUMB.

I recently read a story on Yahoo about a PR firm hired by a gaming company to promote some of their new online games but “the job” took a nasty turn when the FTC busted the PR company for having their employees create fake user accounts in order to rate the games as seemingly innocuous consumers. Did I mention that the PR firm was reaping commission for every game purchased?

So, these supposed consumers, who were posting reviews such as “Great game!” and “Fun family game,” were making some pretty serious cash off their little scam. My surprise (and mild disgust) stems from the stupidity involved in this behavior, not so much from the behavior itself. I don’t understand how, in this day and age when every click of the mouse is tracked by someone, somewhere, these people were so arrogant as to think they could get away with this. I can’t email my husband without it going on a database somewhere – how did these folks think their IP addresses were suddenly invisible to the FTC?

The worst part may be their overly-blasé attitude about getting caught. They paid their fine and made some snotty comment as to how the investigation was so unimportant that they didn’t have time to worry about it. These are PR people, folks! This is the field which we aspire to professionalize and in which we hope to succeed and we have to worry about yahoos like these guys who seem to have no idea about the real meaning of public relations.

I for one plan to represent our field with dignity, ethics and even remorse when necessary and I hope the future generation of PR is intending to the same thing or we’re really up a creek before we even get started.

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