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Burson-Marsteller says it shouldn't have pitched negative Google stories secretly for Facebook

May 12, 2011 | 11:08 am

Burson-Marsteller said that it shouldn't have accepted Facebook's request to secretly pitch journalists negative stories about Google Social Circle.

The public relations firm, which on Wednesday was honored as the North American Agency of the Year at the SABRE Awards, issued its statement Thursday after the news broke about the Facebook job and Facebook admitted to hiring Burson-Marsteller. The PR firm has 68 offices and 70 affiliate offices in 96 countries.

Burson-Marsteller's statement:

Now that Facebook has come forward, we can confirm that we undertook an assignment for that client.

The client requested that its name be withheld on the grounds that it was merely asking to bring publicly available information to light and such information could then be independently and easily replicated by any media.  Any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.

Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

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