Showing posts with label reverb communications. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reverb communications. Show all posts

Monday, August 24

Hulking Astroturf: Reverb Communications


As if being called out on astroturf over gaming apps while the Federal Trade Commission is considering new rules to regulate reviews on the Internet isn't enough, Reverb Communications added fuel to its own bonfire by sending MobileCrunch what can only be called an incredulous email that defies imagination. The firm, which represents dozens of game publishers and developers, sent an admission of ignorance to writer Gagan Biyani.

A bizarre blend of admission and defiance.

Hi Gagan –

I’m sure you are speaking with one of our former employees that has been contacting media outlets about Reverb. I’m not sure what “unethical practices” you are referring to so it would be hard for me to comment, but I am hoping that you will do the proper research to ensure that the facts you are reporting are accurate and not written based on information provided by a disgruntled former employee who is violating his confidentiality agreement.

My office did mention that you had issues with our staff and interns writing reviews for some of our clients' games, I’m sure you are aware that in order to write a review on iTunes an individual needs to purchase the game or app and can only write one review. Our interns and employees write their reviews based on their own game play experience, after having purchased the game by themselves, a practice not uncommon by anyone selling games or apps and hardly unethical.

I am in Europe until Tuesday, I’ll keep my eyes out for the story, once again I do hope you do some homework before posting erroneous or incorrect information about Reverb Communications.

Doug Kennedy


Although Kennedy is vice president of business development (once listed as "owner" on Linkedin), he seems to have missed the industry memo that includes the standard practice of disclosure, which is precisely why the Federal Trade Commission wants to hold reviewers liable for making false or unsubstantiated claims about products. In fact, companies paying reviewers could be held liable too, which in this case, would likely include all Reverb Communications clients given the Reverb proposal also posted by Biyani.

An alleged portion of the Reverb pitch that promises astroturf.

Reverb employs a small team of interns who are focused on managing online message boards, writing influential game reviews, and keeping a gauge on the online communities. Reverb uses the interns as a sounding board to understand the new mediums where consumers are learning about products, hearing about hot new games and listen to the thoughts of our targeted audience. Reverb will use these interns on [Developer Y] products to post game reviews (written by Reverb staff members) ensuring the majority of the reviews will have the key messaging and talking points developed by the Reverb PR/marketing team.

When firms attempt to 'serve' everyone, they really serve no one.

Yikes. Both communications demonstrate an almost willful ignorance of public relations and ethics, which seems surprising given Kennedy's background at GMR Marketing, Nvidia Corporation, and Sony Corporation. Since, the story of Reverb Communications' astroturfing scheme is making the rounds, and in some cases, dragging Reverb clients along with it.

If it can be said that a core component of public relations includes implementing planned programs of action that will serve both the organization and the public interest, then Reverb Communications seems to have failed both, and itself, equally.
 

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