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Posts Tagged ‘ProPublica’

TurboTax Wants Your Filing Process to Be As Difficult As Possible

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Of course everyone dislikes filing taxes. The fact that we have to do so once a year is one of the main reasons so many Americans have low opinions of government–at least in the abstract.

And yet, the whole process might be easier were it not for the interference of…the people who make and sell tax filing software.

The Slate piece on TurboTax‘s lobbying efforts to defeat the passage of simplified “return-free filing” measures is damning enough to cause a mini-stroke, but we were particularly incensed by this line:

“A public relations firm working on the trade group’s behalf has been luring unsuspecting spokespeople to join its cause—reaching out to them without mentioning any lobbying ties.”

Shocking, we know.

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Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on January 27 at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media companies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Twitter Is Your New Healthcare Customer Service Line

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Have a great day—and don’t forget to @ us when you tell your 235 followers how much we suck!

The fact that many brands use Twitter for customer service is nothing new; we covered a few of the best feeds last year, and many of them were created strictly to engage with customers. If you check out our listicle you’ll notice that most of the ones we included were consumer brands like Nike, Xbox, Amazon, etc.

But today ProPublica posted a must-read story on how Twitter became the new go-to customer service tool for the healthcare industry—and we thought it worthy of debate.

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Hack Turned Flack: Former NYT Editor/Current PR Pro Weighs In

Get the scoop, see?

Here’s something we wish we’d found earlier. For the past 11 months Gorkana, provider of database and analytics services designed for both sides of the PR/media equation, has run a series on its company blog called “Moving to the Darkside” in which media professionals describe making the transition into public relations. A month ago they featured our own contributor Lindsay Goldwert, and for their most recent post they spoke to former New York Times assistant metro editor Nicole Collins Bronzan.

This one is particularly interesting because Bronzan previously represented gay rights group Freedom to Marry and now works as director of communications for non-profit investigative journalism organization ProPublica, whose revealing stories about corporate misdeeds feel designed to make PR people sweat.

Here’s a key quote about journalists considering a career change:

…many people turn to PR as an easy out – and give the profession a bad name – without really considering whether some whole other career would make more sense for them. In a nutshell: If you see PR as a “way out,” take a little time and think more deeply about it.

Don’t hear that point made often, do you? The whole series is well worth a look.

Soviet-Style PR: Firm Plants Positive Stories on Kremlin’s Behalf

President Vladamir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev A few weeks ago we reviewed the Communist Party’s unique approach to PR damage control; today we observe the ways in which the Party ensures positive coverage in foreign media outlets.

In short: they pay for it.

We’re not talking about traditional Party mouthpieces like Pravda and The People’s Daily. This matter concerns stories carried by familiar American media outlets like The Huffington Post and CNBC, which recently posted op-eds by “independent” businessmen proclaiming Russia to be “Europe’s Bright Light of Growth”, calling the government’s approach to the worldwide recession “a model of restraint” and naming Russia “the most dynamic place on the continent.”

An investigation by ProPublica, a research organization dedicated to facilitating “Journalism in the Public Interest”, found that Ketchum planted these complimentary pieces in order to improve Western perceptions of two-time Russian President Vladamir Putin’s government and the nation’s business culture. Ketchum, one of the world’s largest PR firms and PRWeek‘s 2012 agency of the year, has represented the Kremlin since 2006.

Ketchum’s filings with the US Justice Department reveal that, while the company’s employees did not write the stories themselves, they did reach out to the authors and arrange for the placement of their op-eds on prominent websites in order to encourage “foreign investments” in Russian companies.

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ProPublica Analyzes PR’s Growing Influence on the News

ProPublica published a story today (with CJR) discussing the rise of PR’s influence on the news process, which is happening as the number of journalists and the number of news stories has fallen. While the story isn’t an outright attack on PR or publicists, it does take issue with a few things, including the “gray area” between truth and untruth that some publicists tend to operate in and the lack of transparency of some PR efforts.

Gary McCormick, former chair of the PRSA, defends the PR industry, saying that lying is not the way to grow a PR business, but rather to destroy it. Still, it’s the “truthiness” of some information that sources in the story frown upon.

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