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September 16, 2011

PRSA: Global PR Industry Must Condemn Covert Client Services

In a letter to the editor of PRWeek in the publication’s Sept. 2 issue, Keith Trivitt, PRSA associate director of public relations, denounces efforts by companies that pose as public relations firms, offering potential clients covert services for “news manipulation” purposes. The letter is in response to an Aug. 22 PRWeek article, which revealed that companies and political leaders in the U.S. and U.K. are being urged to hire a PR agency specializing in “news manipulation” and “message confusion.”

Opinion: From Feedback — Does ‘manipulation of news’ really go on?
Published: Sept. 2, 2011
Disturbing that this [effort] could be taken seriously
While this very much appears to be an elaborate hoax (“Top Firms Urged to Hire Covert PR Agency For ‘News Manipulation,” Aug. 22), it is still disturbing in the scope of the unethical practices that this firm purports to offer clients, and that some businesses have fallen prey to surreptitious fake news efforts in the past, such as the one proposed by this company.
Efforts to “influence opinion in an advantageous direction in a private and concealed manner” are wholly against the basic tenets of ethical standards in public relations, even if in this case, much or all of the proposed work appears to be a hoax.
In the end, the global public relations industry will do itself a world of good to strongly condemn covert or deceitful practices and client offerings.
Keith Trivitt
Associate Director of Public Relations
Public Relations Society of America


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