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Beware Of Phony Press Releases

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Tuesday January 8, 2013 )

That “scoop” you may have for your blog could be a hoax – be careful.

Some folks still think any publicity is good publicity – going to the extreme of creating press fake releases to further their cause.

Yesterday, someone writing under the banner of a major Australian bank sent out a press release stating the bank was pulling out of a loan deal with a coal mining company. The result was immediate and harsh – a reported $314 million wiped off the company’s value on the stock market.

The problem was the press release wasn’t from the bank at all. It was drafted by a rather obscure environmental group as a foot-in-the-door to draw attention to the plight of an area targeted by the company.

I’m no fan of coal and have written a great deal criticizing the industry, but this was a below the belt tactic; the kind of dirty tricks the environmental movement needs to stay away from.

That aside, media outlets that published the release likely suffered a bit of a hit to their credibility – one of them was one of Australia’s most respected financial dailies. I imagine some choice words were hurled around that newsroom when the hoax was revealed.

It’s always worth a bit of due diligence before publishing a story; particularly if it’s picked up via one of the many el cheapo press release distribution services; which have a nasty habit of doing little or no verification of those submitting stories.

Now this has occurred, we can expect to see further similar incidents and if this incident has given anyone ideas; the most valuable advice I can give is don’t; no matter how justifiable you believe the action is – you’ll be leaving yourself wide open to all sorts of legal action and making whatever perceived evil entity you’re targeting a victim.

If you should fall victim to this ruse and publish a hoax; it’s really important as soon as you become aware of it that you pull the article as the financial damage it can cause to the affected company, as demonstrated in this case, can be considerable. Being tardy in pulling the item could spell legal headaches for you as well.


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