Who says a lack of ethics doesn’t pay?

Just ask the folks at cosmetic surgery company Lifestyle Lift who were asked to write a check for $300,000 as part of a settlement...

Just ask the folks at cosmetic surgery company Lifestyle Lift who were asked to write a check for $300,000 as part of a settlement with the New York Attorney General for astroturfing. If the term is new to you, beware. It’s become a common practice among publicists to seed the Internet with seemingly grass-roots testimonials, reviews, and comments that aren’t organic – but planted by insider sources.

Too many PR folks think that social media is as unregulated and as lawless as the Wild West. They’re mistaken. The same rules that apply for disclosure in traditional print and electronic media apply here as well, and the FTC is drafting rules as we speak so you won’t be able to plead ignorance for long.

In fact, organizations like BlogHer have put a great deal of focus on the ethics related to sponsored content, and the topic was front and center during yesterday's online presentation titled "The Ethics of Blogging," which was presented by Social Media Today.

The case referenced above stems from a company that promoted cosmetic procedures via online reviews written by employees that impersonated satisfied customers, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Legitimate sources such as TripAdvisor.com and Amazon.com continue to be victimized by astroturfing.
So for those who say there is no ROI on ethics, try signing a check for $300,000!

Ann Subervi, president and CEO, Utopia Communications

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