Posted by: Jen J. Ashley | May 16, 2011

Facebook: “No Finger Print” Story

Before I start, if you have not read the story about Facebook’s attack against Google, do so.
Here you go:
I interviewed multiple professionals in the field of Public Relations after this campaign to find out what their feelings on the matter were. I was shocked. Apparently, this is a common practice! They said how Burson-Marstellder went about this campaign was wrong, but the essence behind it was not. I started asking how could this be? Do we not have ethics? Then the explanations began.
Public Relation pros are deeply invested into the companies that they work for. Part of being invested in your company is knowing your competition. To know your competition is to have a competitive advantage. When Facebook investigated Google-one of their main competitors – their findings were unsettling. To their core, Facebook believes that Google is not running their company honestly. They believe they are abusing their customers privacy rights. A right that is still figuring out how it applies to the internet. In that case, Facebook should be applauded for standing up for their customers. (Being a Google/Facebook user myself, I am assuming there are others who also use both sites.) However, I believe their PR was handled poorly because of the following reasons:
Know Who Your Pitching To
Bloggers are not journalists. Most of them have not been trained professionally, nor worked in communications for any company. Most write about what they know. Mom bloggers write about being mom’s. Avid travelers write about places to visit and so on and so forth. Burson-Marsteller approached these bloggers the way they would approach a reporter at the New York Times. Know your audience Burson-Marsteller. The technology bloggers took the pitch as “shady” and such a story to “blow the lid off”.
Transparency Was Not Apparent
Any good communicator will tell you that transparency is key. Whenever anything is withheld in a conversation it makes one wonder why. Why can I not know everything? Who else is in this conversation? By not remaining completely transparent your creating more of a problem and a shadier situation than need be. Open, honest, and humble. That is how all business communication should be done to be considered professional. At least, in my opinion.

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