June 21, 2011

No, companies are NOT entitled to manage news about themselves

Michael Arrington is in another flap, this time for asserting TechCrunch’s right to blindside companies with news. To disagree with him, you almost have to take the stance that companies have some sort of right to manage news about themselves, which I see as pretty ridiculous.

Recently, I got into a flap with EMC Greenplum. I blindsided them on a story; they retaliated for the story by, among other things, screwing me over business-wise. Why did I blindside them in the first place? Because I believed that if I didn’t, they’d put me under intense pressure not to publicize news I’d obtained. (Given the punishment they dished out for my running it, I imagine my belief was quite correct.)

Meanwhile, here are excerpts from a post I drafted last year, but never ran: 

It’s getting ridiculous. Two different large companies have accused me in internal communications of breaking embargoes this year, and in neither case did they give me any kind of briefing with the information! In one of the two cases I published something I’d been told by a competitor of the company’s. In the other case I simply posted a link to a public story. These weren’t cases of getting information from the companies and having it reproduced by outside sources; I got information from the outside sources, period, without the vendors’ cooperation.

Now, the flip side of such stories is that I have good enough relationships with those companies to discover the internal lies. And business must go on, which is why I’m not naming the companies in question. Still, I can’t imagine any benefit to these vendors from internal dishonesty. And I have to wonder about the wisdom of putting untruthful people in jobs that involve gaining outsiders’ trust.

And I could have drafted a similar one the year before that, with “NDAs” in the place of embargoes.

Of course, it’s not just news — companies get upset by people who offer opinion as well.


One Response to “No, companies are NOT entitled to manage news about themselves”

  1. Dan Dent on June 30th, 2011 10:33 am

    I agree. Corporate America wants to manage news about itself, and when something leaks, they tend to blame the messenger. As a PR professional, I’ve seen it too many times. I tell clients that if they’re going to operate in the public realm, they better be prepared for stories not of their making. Retaliating only makes it worse.

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