SDNN doesn’t disclose relationship between PR blogger and client
In her Feb. 11 blog post on SDNN, a for-profit news website, “Gaslamp Gal” Lauren Clifford tells us how excited she is about FLUXX, a new nightclub opening up where Aubergine used to be. You’ll be “bumpin'” to the 50,000 watts of sound, and the “26 moving light heads on the ceiling” and “the three liquid nitrogen sprayers” are gonna be “sick,” she tells us.
What Clifford, a regular columnist, doesn’t tell us in her post is that she gets paid to do PR for FLUXX.
At the end of her posts, she does tell us that she is in the PR business and provides a link to the company she works for, JPR. But nowhere that I could find on the JPR website are FLUXX or parent company RMD Group mentioned as clients. However, Clifford confirmed in an e-mail that she does, indeed, do PR for FLUXX.
Just so we’re clear, my issue is not with Clifford. Hell, she’s doing heck of a job for her client, singing its praises in a blog on what some might consider a reputable news source.
No, my issue is with SDNN for publishing a blog post that’s nothing more than professional public relations—without disclosing for the reader the relationship between the writer and the business about which she’s writing. Some readers might trust that Clifford is covering Downtown nightlife in an honest, genuine, no-strings-attached manner and that she’s recommending only those places that she really likes.
Media that operate with integrity would always disclose such a conflict of interest. It tells the reader that everything else in the paper or on the website or in the broadcast can be trusted as independent and honest. By publishing this kind of thing without disclosure, SDNN is not only lying to its readers, it’s also telling them to view all of its content with suspicion.