We all know that public relations can get a little…insane at times. Bad behavior, lawsuits, internal leaks…we’ve got it all, right? Sure we do–but when it comes to crazy we can’t even compete with China. A “shocking expose” first reported by the People’s Republic’s Caixin magazine and translated by the Tech in Asia blog reveals a seedy PR underworld in which firms earn millions every year on the strength of bribery and blackmail–all committed in the name of media relations and reputation management.
The primary players in this sordid saga are two firms called Yage Times and XinXun Media. What did these firms do, exactly? They specialized in getting negative news stories about clients removed from prominent websites–but it all goes much deeper than that.
Not only would these companies bribe site runners to delete “unflattering” posts–they also paid their friends in IT to have related search terms blocked on Baidu, the Chinese equivalent of Google. Imagine entering “Beyoncé lip sync” or “Burger King horse meat” into your browser and coming up with a big fat nothing and you’ll get the general idea.