She told delegates at the PR and New Media conference, hosted by PRWeek in London this Wednesday, of the growing importance of new media, but warned PROs that the way they capitalise on new-media opportunities must be ethically sound. ‘Transparency is vital – and it can disappear in an instant,’ Bell said.
In a later panel debate, Times Online editorial director Peter Bale cited an example of a major cosmetics firm setting up a website that masqueraded as independent, to talk about and promote one of its products.
It was exposed as ‘bollocks’ and shut down, damaging the firm’s reputation, said Bale.
News organisations’ websites should become a trusted information source because of the ease with which mistakes can be corrected, Bell added. ‘Newspapers can cause damage, but if there is a mistake online you can take it down. This means we are seeing fewer libel cases.’