by Darren Burns
March 26th, 2013

Unethical public relations is still pervasive in China – old school versus new school. This firm was recently excluded from a digital pitch because we wouldn’t promise to “delete negative social posts or news reports within 24 hours.”

Unfortunately in China today these requests are still common, and driven from the client side — including multinational clients.

It’s old-fashioned thinking and is driven by a fear of the boss criticising them for not doing their job. But it’s also completely unethical.

Social media in China is a powerful force that brands need to embrace, warts and all. Deleting posts that you don’t like by bribing the posters is simply not a sustainable modus operandi. The success we had with the McDonald’s 3:15 campaign where we had a crisis ready approach, proactive engagement strategy and an action plan to fix the problem, shows that. We did not delete any negative posts and McDonald’s was lauded for its integrity.

That some communications departments think their job is to delete posts they don’t like on the internet by using agencies to bribe editors, key opinion leaders (KOLs) and website masters is astonishingly old school.

Wake up to yourself.

Darren Burns is managing director, China, at Weber Shandwick

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