Friday, August 8, 2014

Three firms busted for down-low PR deceptions: Burson-Marsteller, DCI Group and Condé Nast's Strategic Partnerships division

ONE: From Slate, on the Astroturf shenanigans of Burson-Marsteller to improve the Washington Redskins image:
     You may have noticed ads on the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated websites for a new site that wants to set the record straight on the Washington NFL team’s offensive nickname. That site, which was registered on June 30, touts the nickname’s storied history, various polls that reflect its popularity, and claims that it’s really, truly not offensive to Native Americans...
     The About Us page indicates that it is “a growing online community of passionate Washington [NFL team] fans and others who support the team’s use of its name and logo.” A Washington team spokesman told the local ABC affiliate WJLA that “they know of the site and totally support their effort,” sounding surprised and delighted by this online campaign.
     A graphic at the top of the nickname-defending website, though, indicates that it’s “sponsored by” the team’s alumni...
     Jamie Zoch of Dot Weekly noted that the firm has hand-registered several sites with very similar names in recent days. (The registrant name for the nickname-defending site itself is listed as “PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC.” Perfect Privacy is a service that allows you to buy a Web domain without releasing any of your personal information.) A Google site search of the nickname website also reveals a login page that is “Powered by Burson Site Factory.” And a search of the site’s source code reveals a link to That Burson page shares an IP address ( with the nickname website.
TWO: The other day David Pakman exposed Crystal High as a covert stooge for DCI, a PR firm with clients known to be in opposition to Net Neutrality: Verizon and cable companies front, Broadband for America. This was the second time DCI had tried to fool Pakman. High has also been busted as a comment troll trying to undermine articles defending Net Neutrality by author Lee Fang:
     On the pages of VICE and an investigative website I help manage called Republic Report, I've covered the net neutrality debate—whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be able to create internet fast and slow lanes, or if, instead, all content should be treated equally. A writer and attorney named Kristal High has been attacking me in the comment section throughout the year.
      For a story about how civil rights groups with funding from Comcast and other telecom companies wrote a letter to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) supporting the agency’s proposal to gut net neutrality, High showed up in the comment section to call me "paternalistic." After I published a story last week about how a Comcast-affiliated African American news outlet decided to delete a story I wrote about net neutrality upon being contacted by an advocacy group tied to the telecom industry, High appeared in the comment section once again to troll me. She claimed that I am wrong to be critical of the FCC's plan and that I have been wasting my time by focusing on the "lobbying dollars" spent in the debate.

THREE: Last week, Condé Nast's Strategic Partnerships division tried to bribe two authors highly critical of the food industry into participating in an "exciting video series" on the "topics of food, food chains and sustainability" — sponsored by GMO and pesticide vendor Monsanto — by not mentioning Monsanto in the emailed pitch (only in attachments) and by telling them that a CBS reporter would be the production's host when in fact Mo Rocca never agreed to do that.

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