So, last week we took the time to lecture our readers on the nature of native advertising–and this week’s biggest media “scandal” conveniently gives us an opportunity to show everyone how not to do it.
In summary: Established magazine The Atlantic, long a home to respectable journalism, ran a sponsored post that was little more than an official release from the Church of Scientology.
The church is scrambling to get some good press before journalist Lawrence Wright‘s upcoming expose Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief hits the nation’s bookstores and e-readers. The post itself amounted to a comical report about how leader David Miscavige has helped the church expand its membership; it included little beyond (obviously staged) photos documenting the recent openings of Scientology “centers” around the world.
And that’s not all: The Atlantic also carefully monitored the story’s comments section, erasing many of the (overwhelmingly negative) comments from users before closing them down altogether. Bad move, guys.
Now it’s damage control time!