PR Firm Behind Facebook’s Anti-Google Campaign: Job “Should Have Been Declined”
Now that it’s out in the open that Facebook was the client that asked heavy-hitting PR firm Burson-Marsteller to stealthily manipulate the media to spread an anti-Google whisper campaign, Burson, which has some serious PR damage control to perform on its own reputation, has spoken out publicly, throwing its former client under the bus just a little bit. In a statement, Burson-Marsteller explained Facebook’s reasons for asking for what it did, but concluded that what it was asked to do was “not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined.”
Now that Facebook has come forward, we can confirm that we undertook an assignment for that client.
The client requested that its name be withheld on the grounds that it was merely asking to bring publicly available information to light and such information could then be independently and easily replicated by any media. Any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.
Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle.
We open it to our readers: Was Facebook’s conduct in ordering this campaign unethical, or was this a fair business tactic for one fierce competitor to use against another?
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