Whether its busing in employees to make it look like there's a real protest movement against legislation to stop climate change, stealing letterhead to promote coal, or getting employees to express ersatz anger against health care reform, these efforts are doing irreparable harm to the reputation of our industry. Each one takes another blow at PR's crediblity and corporate trust. Why would anyone believe us after all this?
More importantly, why do the PR people and corporations behind this fakery think such manipulation and falsehoods work? Because they are using measures of success that are just as false as the tactics they are using. While I don't know for sure, if you believe recent reports, chances are good that the PR people behind these schemes are most likely measuring the wrong thing. As they've done for years, they are counting eyeballs and making some impossible calculation relative to what it would have cost to purchase the space aka Ad Value Equivalent (AVE) . Because people carrying guns to presidential rallys and screaming at town hall meetings make for good cable-TV, these affairs are getting lots of coverage. And, that translates into soaring AVE numbers and lots of eyeballs. So PR people and their bosses that believe these numbers continue to roll out these astroturfing campaigns. Despite the fact that each one is another nail in the coffin of PR's (and their own) crediblity. Whether the efforts will actually have any long-term benefit to the corporations they serve remains to be seen.