Burson in Hot Seat Over Microsoft PR

September 24, 2007

Today’s WSJ reports:

Microsoft Corp. executives and a public-relations firm [Buron Marsteller]retained by the software giant are waging a quiet campaign to convince Internet companies, advertisers and regulators to oppose GoogleInc.’s planned $3.1 billion acquisition of online advertising specialist DoubleClick Inc.

They’re not disclosing:

In Europe, Burson urged Internet companies to become signatories on an online petition for a more “transparent and competitive Internet,” according to the pitches. It directed the companies to a Web site, http://www.i-comp.org, and provided user names and passwords to log in.

The pitches cited a number of groups and an individual who had signed on to the effort. The pitches didn’t disclose that Burson was working for Microsoft, Google’s largest rival. Josh Gottheimer, an executive vice president at Burson, said the firm was hired by Microsoft to set up i-comp.org as a “discussion forum” for issues of privacy and competition. He said the firm doesn’t disclose its clients as a general practice, but said in some cases companies were told Microsoft was a member of the group.

That last sentence really caught our eye, “The firm doesn’t disclose its clients as a general practice.”  It’s fine to not post a client list on your agency website, but in email pitches to the media we feel disclosure is crucial to building trust. Interesting. PRNewser wants to know more. Sends us your thoughts in the comments or to prnewser at mediabistro dot com.

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2 Responses to “Burson in Hot Seat Over Microsoft PR”


  1. First of all, it’s profoundly hysterical that Microsoft is pushing for fair competition. The bottom line is, you can’t utilize social media tactics for the purpose of manipulation, ESPECIALLY if you are a big agency with a high-profile client like Microsoft. You get caught. Just ask Edelman and Wal-Mart. Social media strategies can be quite effective when you play by the rules of transparency and authenticity.

  2. miranda kennedy Says:

    I am amazed that anyone would think that B-M would be transparent.


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