Monday, May 16, 2011

Where was Burson's and Facebook's Moral Compass?

The blind eye toward ethics illustrated by both Burson and Facebook as part of a PR campaign directed at Google really gets under my skin. This is not about the antitrust and privacy concerns that are raising the eye brows of federal regulators and policy-makers (I get to this later in the post).

For those of you who may have missed it, Facebook retained Burson-Marsteller for a campaign that seemed to be aimed primarily at Google. Two former journalists from Burson pitched editorials to the media without disclosing the name of their client. The content was about Google's supposed anti-competitive behavior. I first read about it in USA Today last week. 

This is about PR people showing poor judgement that is detrimental to our field. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) clearly spells out that we should be transparent when dealing with the media or any third party for that matter. The thing is, the former journalists at Burson and the Facebook PR people are smart and know this. So it begs the question: why do it especially given the risk of any digital communication with journalists coming out was so high? That's a question that both Facebook and Google need to answer.