In September, we told you about Coghlan Consulting Group’s practice of publishing positive news articles about its clients on a fake news site set up to look like a real news site (which was even indexed by Google News, though it’s not anymore).
Its client in that instance was the Central Basin Municipal Water District of California.
Coghlan’s efforts on behalf of Central Basin could be construed as content marketing—a popular and powerful new tool for PR and marketing professionals.
But there’s an important distinction in this case: Masking the content as objective journalism—without mentioning that its associated with Central Basin—is unethical. A PRSA representative called Coghlan’s actions “an egregious breach of ethical standards for public relations.”
The plot thickens—and it ain’t pretty.
Now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the fake site, News Hawks, was publishing stories by “journalists” that didn’t exist.