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Ethics

What We Should All Learn From Edelman’s Commitment to Become Its Own Client

Edelman ReputationEdelman PR has been in a bad way lately — not for their client outreach efforts but for what they have done to themselves.

First, the global independent juggernaut caused a small kerfuffle by taking a stance against all those pesky “climate change skeptics.” Given their ardent statements of commitment to the cause, this didn’t go over too well.

Then, the agency thought that using Robin William’s unfortunate death to start a conversation about effective pitching would be a good idea. Many disagreed and they apologized, but no one really listened.

Now, Edelman will start to consider itself as a client. Question from the rest of us: What took so long? 

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How Zelda Williams Will Change Twitter’s Troll Policy

A while back, we offered a ’5 Things‘ post about “How to exterminate Internet trolls.” Apparently, some of you didn’t get the memo because something really (expletive) awful happened to the grieving Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams.

The tweet says it all. Thousands of others chimed in because those two aforementioned stains on humanity were sending Zelda pics of … her deceased father. Of course the photos were fake, but the claims were bad enough.

Twitter finally got the message and let the trolls know: “We’re coming for you.

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Is the Public Statement of Advocacy the New PR Stunt?

rainbow_targetMinneapolis-based Target hit a direct bulls-eye with an interesting blog post from Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Jodee Kozlak. In the post, she notes her retail chain had signed on to a recent federal amicus brief.

Nothing too exciting, until you see that Target now stands side-by-side with Apple, Nike, Starbucks, and Facebook in support of judges striking down bans on gay marriage in Wisconsin and Indiana.

This announcement came as a stunner to many in the press as the organization has been unclear about its stance on the subject for many years. Target executives do not talk about it, which is why many assumed that they were not supporters.

Then this blog post happened, inspiring headlines everywhere. And a few hacks and flacks of the more cynical nature were left wondering whether it was a sincere statement or a stunt.

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Firm Exposes ‘Billion Passwords’ Breach, Peddles $120 Service to Potential Victims

hackersIn case you missed it, the New York Times reported yesterday that a Russian gang of 20-something hackers has amassed 1.2 billion username and password combinations, plus more than 500 million email addresses. This isn’t Heartbleed—it’s a heart attack.

The records were discovered by the Milwaukee-based firm Hold Security, which also helped uncover the Great Adobe Identity Theft of 2013. 

Here’s what’s super scary about this particular scenario:

“Hackers did not just target U.S. companies, they targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites…And most of these sites are still vulnerable.”

And yes, the threat is authentic: the Times enlisted the help of a third-party security expert for confirmation.

Adding fuel to the hysterical fire is the fact that we don’t know whose email addresses are included or which sites are affected—and Holden “[WON’T] NAME the victims, citing nondisclosure agreements and a reluctance to name companies whose sites remained vulnerable.”

What will he name? A price.

For as low as $120 a month, you can pay Hold Security to find out if your site has been affected by the breach.

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Will the Ebola Virus Solve Big Tobacco’s Image Problem?

ebola tobacco

Please be aware that I wrote this post’s headline with my tongue pressed firmly to my cheek. As a former smoker who finally quit the nasty habit, I’m happy to have the positive reinforcement of tobacco’s negative health consequences in the news as much as it can.

That said, this bit of breaking news is quite interesting: Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers.

Somebody, somewhere out in Marlboro Country is giving a yippee ki yay. Methinks it might be coming from the PR department. Read more

News Producers to PR Professionals: ‘Live Up to That Name Please!’

Public-Relations-Help-Photo-Lucy-from-Charlie-Brown

Some of us aren’t crazy about the moniker “flacks.” Even more are adverse to being called “spin doctors.” The term many embrace in this profession is “PR professional.”

The reason? Public relations people want to be considered pros at their jobs. They do much more than pitch and play. They want to convey expertise in a title and hope our colleagues in the media will see that professional ability every time. One catch: being professional in the process. 

That’s fine but if you are going to use that title, I have a request on behalf of many assignment desk editors and news producers: “Act like it!” Apparently, there have been issues.

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Top Firms Would Do Anything for Money, But They Won’t Do THAT

the world for sale

Recently we reported on the large number of publicity firms willing to represent foreign dictators (turns out London has cornered the market on that demographic).

There’s one group of clients that our colleagues across the pond won’t touch, however: climate change deniers. Read more

More Bloggers Using PR Services to Solicit Free Stuff

EMPTY BOX

We all know that Help A Reporter Out and Profnet are great tools for PR pros and that product reviews by prominent bloggers are great for clients.

But what about those social media entrepreneurs who use the service to explicitly request free stuff? And how does this square with pay-for-play ethical boundaries?

After the jump, a couple of examples from bloggers who, frankly, don’t have a whole hell of a lot of leverage to make such requests.

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When Foreign Dictators Look for Good PR, They Look to London

230182-the-dictator

If you wanted to, there’s a lot you could say right now about PR’s influence in the world of foreign affairs: Gaza, Putin, who is winning, who is losing, etc…but the most interesting question may be who is profiting?

“… [I]ncreasingly, governments look to PRs and lobbyists to give their image a scrub. What it is, is reputation laundering. What they are buying is a good image in political centres like Brussels and Washington, in the international and financial media and with investors. Governments and dictators will look overseas for this type of expertise, and London has become the place to go for it.”

London is profiting (to the tune of roughly £7.5 billion per year), and VICE UK’s Jack Gilbert is naming names: Bell Pottinger, Portland Communications, and more.

In a must-read article published today on VICE, Gilbert puts the hard questions to Tamasin Cave, director of Spinwatch (a PR watchdog organization) for an excellent expose.

Highlights after the jump.

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Obama Administration Locks Out White House Press Corps (Again)

obama white house

In a word… Yes!

To quote a poet laureate somewhere in the annals of baseball, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

You may recall a story last week about journalism groups, led by the Society for Professional Journalists, demanding the Obama Administration open up the doors to give them the access they were promised almost seven long years ago. Now, someone in the White House is at it again.

And this time, it gets even shadier because the meetings in question concerned two top Democratic Super PACs.

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