Google’s image issues

Google can't just rely on the good PR it once earned for being younger and hipper than Microsoft. These days every gaffe the tech giant...

Google can't just rely on the good PR it once earned for being younger and hipper than Microsoft. These days every gaffe the tech giant makes is scrutinized by pundits, who are eager for the company to betray its progressive image. And Google – already attacked by critics for reported privacy violations and employment inequities - is now is being pitted against liberal darling, Michael Moore.

You may have heard that last week Lauren Turner, a health account planner at Google, criticized Michael Moore's new documentary, Sicko, on the company's health advertising blog. Turner said the film portrays the healthcare industry "as money and marketing driven, and fails to show healthcare's interest in patient well-being and care." But what caught fire is her suggestion that the healthcare industry buy ads on Google to counter the film's message. This created firestorm in the blogosphere and was eventually picked up by the NY Times.

Google went on the PR defensive. Turner said her opinion didn't represent the company (even though it was posted on its corporate blog). The company demonstrated good PR strategy by acknowledging the gaffe: "Our internal review of the piece before publication failed to recognize that readers would -- properly, but incorrectly -- impute the criticisms as reflecting Google's official position. We blew it." And added that it supports many of Moore's concerns.

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