Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I'm not sure PR is really to blame here (Mommy bloggers vow to avoid ethical conflicts, Kuhn), but since the industry is an easy target it gets the blame. In PR, we aim to partner with media that has the most influence. If we can get prominent mommy bloggers to help, then so be it. However, PR pros don't need to try to convince the bloggers to be stealthy about the partnership. Just put it out in the open and let the readers know you worked with a PR person on the product. The only way I see this as unethical is if the blogger has never used the product and is only plugging it for a kickback. That blogger really has an honesty and greed problem. If the blogger is being paid, then that's really marketing/advertising, which has a much deeper history of deception than PR. PR is generally all about unpaid, uncontrolled media. If we send info to a mommy blogger with no strings attached, and that blogger features it, I see no problems.
So, is astroturf to blame for the chaos at these health care town hall meetings (When Astroturf Goes Too Far, Zelizer)? Or, is it simply genuine citizen angst? Based on this (Let's Talk Astroturf, Howe), I would say there is plenty of astroturf coming from pro-reformers, but you can't write it all off to that. The opponents and the supporters both genuinely care and are passionate about their views. The philosophical differences between the two sides are huge, which does not make civility an easy thing to maintain.