Would you lose your job over a gaffe so big it thrusts your company into the spotlight and jeopardizes the relationship with a dream client?
The Burson-Marsteller reps involved in the Facebook fiasco won’t.
Although (it’s been said
) B-M threw its now former client Facebook under the bus, the firm will not fire Jim Goldman and John Mercurio, the journalists turned PR pros who led a botched campaign
to plant negative stories in the press about Google.
Instead, B-M said it will retrain them.
“We have talked through our policies and procedures with each individual involved in the program and made it clear this cannot happen again,” B-M USA President Pat Ford told PR Week
According to Ford, B-M will redistribute its code of ethics to all employees.
Goldman is a former tech reporter at CNBC, and Mercurio’s a one-time political reporter. That the two are ex-journalists has not gone unnoticed by observers, and it calls to mind a recent PR Daily
On May 2, Columbia Journalism Review
co-published a report on the growing influence of the public relations industry. Tim Penning, Ph.D., APR, an associate professor in the School of Communications at Grand Valley State University, penned a response for PR Daily
, in which he said:
“Like any profession, PR has its bad practitioners. But more often than not, particularly in politics, ‘spin’ is perpetuated by people who do not have a degree in PR, and are not members of PRSA and aware of its ethics code, and therefore should not be considered exemplary of PR as commonly practiced.
“In fact, it’s a bit ironic to read journalists’ complaints with PR when so many in public relations came from journalism. For example, in Woody Klein’s book All the President’s Spokesmen, it becomes clear that the overwhelming majority of presidential press secretaries—from Stephen Early working for Franklin Roosevelt up to the present—have been former journalists.”
Meanwhile, in case you missed it, PR Daily
contributor Gil Rudawsky offered some common-sense lessons
from the fallout of this incident. Among his lessons:
“Ethics is not an abstract word. Live it, breathe it, and incorporate it into every action. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it will help reset the bar for the industry—and let you sleep at night.”