I’ve been told to tweet this tomorrow: ‘Really excited to be heading down to @BRITAwards tonight with [sponsors names here]’. No, no, no.
— Tim Walker (@ThatTimWalker) February 18, 2014
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