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Make Honesty an Issue

Trust Who You Trust To Handle Your Business

We have all seen them and most gleam very useful information from them. However, more than one public relations firm saw online product reviews as an opportunity to advance their client, breaching protocol widely viewed as a cheat and globally renounced as being unethical.

Within recent years, one story stands alone as a bright example of a lapse in ethics in the public relations industry.  Reverb Communication, located in Northern California and specializing in video and phone apps, was suspected of having their interns and other employees posing as consumers and posting very positive customer reviews on the product’s Apple iTunes page — driving traffic to that page and product, however, violating industry ethics — an allegation Reverb strongly denies.

In an investigative piece published on MobileCrunch.com, the reporter discovered several early, 5-star product reviews on the pages of apps of clients represented by Reverb. After clicking on the reviewer — to see which other products that person had reviewed — it was discovered that these several reviewers also gave gleaming 5-star review to several other Reverb rep’ed apps, having reviewed none others that weren’t covered by Reverb.

Reverb denied these claims in a statement released after the publication of the article, saying that several employees may use the apps Reverb represents and may chose to write positive reviews themselves, without being “commanded” to by agency. However, in a document released in the original article by a company insider, there are specific details as to what step-by-step procedures need to be follow when assigning these interns to write and post their clients’ product reviews.

In the face of the evidence, Reverb Communications has denied all claims of ethics violations.

However, this is hardly the first claim of this type made against a company or public relations agency. Heavy names such as Sony and Burger King — for example — have been accused of similar claims.

When considering hiring an agency to represent your company and your values, take the time to review the agency to ensure that you feel comfortable hiring them to represent your name and brand — that they carry the same values you do as well as operate above the standards and ethics levels set forth by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Shazaaam! Public Relations, since its founding in 2001, has conformed to — and acted above those standards — in all its activities, projects and operations.

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