Tag Archives: asa

The Mastercard Brit Awards journalists should have quoted the ASA

Last week’s reports on a PR company’s demand to journalists that they post tweets in exchange for accreditation missed one important factor: the Advertising Standards Authority.

The arrangement – involving a PR agency handling Mastercard‘s sponsorship of the Brit Awards – was revealed when Telegraph reporter Tim Walker sent an email to Press Gazette. They reported:

“Before providing two journalists from the Telegraph with accreditation to attend the event House PR has asked them to agree to a number of requests about the coverage they will give it.

“They have even gone as far as to draft Twitter messages which they would like the journalists to send out – and asked that they include a mention of the marketing campaign #PricelessSurprises and @MasterCardUK.”

Do such messages fall foul of the ASA’s guidelines on “marketing communications” on Twitter?

The ASA’s press officer Matt Wilson said that they don’t have a precedent, but told me:

“If entry to the Brit awards was conditional on the journalist tweeting on behalf of Mastercard, we’d likely view that as a ‘reciprocal arrangement’ (i.e. the journalist receiving a benefit they wouldn’t have otherwise). Continue reading

The law, ethics & effectiveness of PR firms offering bloggers prizes-to-post

A PR firm recently invited me to review their client’s product, saying that if I did review it I would be entered into a prize draw with other ‘qualifying’ bloggers to win an iPad 2.

It was a product I might ordinarily have covered, but this approach made me reluctant.

Here’s reason number 1: I asked myself whether the PR firm will have made the same approach to print journalists. I doubt it. Why? Because it would have raised obvious ethical issues, and questioned the journalists’ professionalism.

So were they assuming that bloggers had different ethics? I doubt they thought that hard – more likely was that some bright spark thought that eager, amateur bloggers would jump at the chance to get anything for their hard work.

Here’s reason number 2: other bloggers will have been approached with the same offer. If they saw me review the product they would assume that I had done so in exchange for this prize draw ticket. They would see me as unprofessional, unethical, or both.

In PR terms, then, the approach was counter-productive: it actually made me less likely to give their client coverage.
Continue reading