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Posts Tagged ‘Reverb Communications’

New Study: Fake ‘User’ Reviews Are Here to Stay

We recently posted a story discussing whether fake “user” reviews posted to social media and retail sites on behalf of clients could be considered acceptable PR tools. The overwhelming response we received from PR professionals strongly hinted at a critical consensus: While the practice is somewhat common, it is never OK.

Gerard F. Corbett, Chairman and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, even weighed in to state unequivocally that posting reviews under fake names is unethical and should not be tolerated by any respectable PR organization.

Unfortunately, researchers behind a newly released Gartner study believe that the practice will only continue to grow despite our ethical quandaries. It’s a bit of a chicken-egg scenario: As consumers conduct more of their research and shopping online, positive social media reviews will become more and more important to brands—and in the rush to establish and expand a product’s online reputation, quite a few individuals will end up breaking the rules. (Researchers place the percentage of fake reviews at 10-15% by 2014.)

According to Gartner, someone will pay for cheating—and soon.

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Roll Call: Euro RSCG PR, Weber Shandwick, GCI Health

Terese Kelly has joined Euro RSCG Worldwide PR as SVP of media. She joins from DiGennaro Communications, where she was senior account director. Prior to that, she was the director of PR for House Party Inc., an event planning company. She has 18 years of communications experience.

Mary Jane Walker has joined Weber Shandwick as SVP of corporate healthcare based out of the New York office. Besides her work on big healthcare clients, Walker will also be helping companies experiencing a major shift, like a CEO change or corporate restructuring. Walker was previously an SVP at Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

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FTC Dispute ‘Was a Frivolous Matter’ Says Reverb’s Snitker

The New York Times covers the Federal Trade Commission settlement announced yesterday with PR and marketing firm Reverb Communications over favorable iTunes reviews that appeared to be posted by regular consumers but were actually written by paid employees.

In the story, a statement from Reverb exec Tracie Snitker is quoted:

Rather than continuing to spend time and money arguing and laying off employees to fight what we believed was a frivolous matter, we settled this case and ended the discussion.”

The case was the first handled under a set of guidelines introduced last year for Internet endorsements, the story reads. A Harvard Law School professor, Jonathan Zittrain, says the case shows that the guidelines are meant to address the “professional endorser” rather than an “individual blogger or Twitterer.”

PR Firm Settling FTC Charges of Misleading Endorsements

PR and marketing firm Reverb Communications will settle charges from the Federal Trade Commission stating that the firm posted reviews for a client on the iTunes store without disclosing that they were written by paid employees. In addition to citing Reverb, the FTC also singled out the firm’s owner Tracie Snitker. Reverb and Snitker are ordered to remove misleading endorsements and they’re barred from making further endorsements without proper disclosure.

“Companies, including public relations firms involved in online marketing need to abide by long-held principles of truth in advertising,” said Mary Engle, director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices in the release detailing the settlement.

The FTC voted in favor of this settlement unanimously.

Tom Chernaik, founder of CMP.ly, which provides advertisers and bloggers with disclosure solutions, said the Reverb situation “reaffirms everything that the FTC has said to date” about the need for companies to be transparent.

“Fake reviews are obviously a large concern and the FTC has made it clear that paid reviews have to be disclosed,” he told PRNewser. “Both advertisers and their agencies are specifically responsible for proper disclosure. But in this case they didn’t even name the advertiser in the investigation.”