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You will always get caught

Belkin is the latest example of a company caught in an unethical word of mouth campaign. They had an employee paying for fake positive reviews, and trying to hide bad reviews.

That’s unethical, sleazy, and they got caught. Read about it here: 1 2 3 and all over the web.

This story wiped out any positive news they hoped to get from the Consumer Electronics Show. Their CEO had to call a press conference. Trust in the company is forever broken.

Lessons:

  1. You will always get caught.
  2. You will be publicly humiliated when you are caught. All those stories will stay on the web forever, undoing whatever you thought you were trying to gain from the fake reviews.

Here’s an important thing to understand: This is avoidable. Most of these scandals are caused by junior employees who were not properly trained in word of mouth ethics. You have to create a formal policy and train your team.

It is easy and quick to create a proper disclosure policy. I run an organization called the Blog Council that has created a Disclosure Policy Toolkit to help you. Download it and you’ll be OK.

Watch this video where I explain what to do, then forward this post.

If you’ve been busted for this sort of sleazery, contact me and we’ll help you do what you can to prevent it in the future.

P.S. Here’s another example: Carbonite doing the same thing, busted by the David Pogue in the New York Times.  I’m canceling all our corporate Carbonite subscriptions.

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Comments

  1. Dave Rigotti February 10, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    Great post. I wrote something very similar the other day. Check it out at http://daverigotti.com/why-faking-amazon-and-other-reviews-is-dumb

  2. Kenton Williams February 10, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    This is the same as when 5W Public Relations was caught posting false comments for a major slaughterhouse (http://www.prnewsonline.com/prnewsblog/index.php/2008/07/31/slaughterhouse-5w-pr-firms-ethics-are-anything-but-kosher/)
    They’re brand suffered a huge hit and they lost clients

  3. Nick S. February 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    Andy, any regular reader of your blog gets this point. It is important and I’m very appreciative that you constantly remind us of it. If only more people regularly read your posts, they would stop making such huge mistakes like this.
    Thank you for the post and for keeping us mindful of this.

  4. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome February 11, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    This sort of case is obvious, but what about the grey-area tactics, like “forgetting” to include a link so that you can email your contacts again? Some people genuinely make mistakes and that’s fine, but I’ve seen it used so much recently I can’t believe that there so many people making the same mistake. Where’s the getting caught for that type of marketing?
    (Amy Derby sent me over here and I’m glad she did!)

  5. Andy Sernovitz February 11, 2009 at 8:02 am #

    There is no grey area. It’s either ethical or it’s not. If you cross the line, you and your company are sleazy and everyone will know it.
    It the case of “forgetting” to put an unsubscribe link in your email … it’s illegal too.