Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Opinion, Opposition and Influence

Hot button issues thrive on opinion, opposition and influence. Opposition against new online data privacy policies has driven watchdogs to vie for higher standards of online privacy governance. Consumer influence is being driven by the Internet more than ever before. And commercial advertisements have reached an unforeseen level of influence and political scrutiny.

This week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest PR and business news and commentary — explores the impact of advocacy and political influence in areas of online privacy laws, hot startup social networks and online ad content.

Why Should You Care about Data Privacy Day? (Edelman Digital)

Privacy is an issue that struck the online world and continues to circulate. With privacy concerns surrounding Facebook and Google, Internet users have become abundantly aware that personal information is easily shared across a number of social networks. This year marks the Fourth Annual Data Privacy Day (DPD), and in honor of that event, Edelman Digital examines the impact of data privacy awareness.

FTC sued over planned Google privacy changes (Post Tech / The Washington Post)

This week the Electronic Privacy and Information Center (EPIC) filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission that targets Google. EPIC, a privacy advocacy group, seeks legal authority from the FTC, and refuses to dismiss this issue until Google’s privacy changes are being lawfully governed. EPIC contends that planned changes to Google’s privacy policy, which are set to go into effect March 1, violate a settlement the company reached with the FTC last summer. EPIC believes that Google misrepresents how it plans to use the information, which would largely be for behavioral advertising.

Is Pinterest Already Making Money, Quietly? (Bits/The New York Times)

Consumers love social media and the minute a new social network hits the Internet, users can’t help but become an active user 24/7. Pinterest, the semi-exclusive online pinboard/scrapbook, is no exception. As the popularity of the site increases, bloggers and other even mainstream media are starting to question Pinterest’s lack of transparency when it comes to how it generates revenue. As The Times reports, there is speculation that Pinterest is altering some “pins,” or links to the items that users want to share with others, like a cute set of tea cups or a pair of boots. If those pins link to an e-commerce site, Pinterest adjusts the link and adds an affiliate tracking code. If someone else browsing the site clicks on the picture of those mugs and decides to purchase them, Pinterest gets a cut of the transaction. Influencers are demanding that Pinterest give an explanation for its covert tactics.

Can Pinterest retain its meteoric rise in popularity, or will this alleged business ethics mishap spell its demise? Let us know in the comments.

 Research: Internet Often As Influential as Friends and Family When Making Purchasing Decisions (PRNewser)

Fleishman-Hillard released the results of its third-annual Digital Influence Index. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, looks at how consumers around the world are using the Web and consuming information. Results show that in the U.S., the Internet is about as important as the Web when deciding what to buy (46 percent said the Internet is more influential versus 47 percent who identified friends and family). We live in a digital age where it’s difficult not to stay connected, whether browsing online or engaging with friends and family via social networks. Calling and even emailing friends is a rarity compared to asking for recommendations on Facebook or Twitter, or from Internet review sources that offer consumer to consumer opinion.

 Chrysler Ad May Not Sell Cars, But It’s Making Some Americans Stupid (Advertising Age)

The week wouldn’t be complete without a little Super Bowl ad talk. For those of you missed some of the cool advertisements during this year’s Super Bowl, let’s focus on one that has generated even more buzz — perhaps for all the wrong reasons — than its initial $3.5-milion ad buy would deliver.

 Chrysler’s big moment in The Game came during its “Halftime in America” commercial, which featured Clint Eastwood giving a pep talk about America’s comeback from the recession. Ad Age’s Ken Wheaton walks us through some key points that were apparently missing from Karl Rove’s opposition of the advertisement:

  • Barack Obama was not the first president to loan a huge chunk of government money to Chrysler.
  • Parts of that ad weren’t even shot in Detroit. Parts were shot in New Orleans. And Los Angeles. And that was the New York City skyline during that one bit!
  • In regard to protest signs being scrubbed clean of pro-union messages, commenters are getting a little nutty with their references to Stalin.

Though Wheaton credits Rove for making one good point in his argument, which was his concern about “the link between big government and the big businesses it bailed out,” he posits that maybe Rove should be more concerned about big government and the banks and financial institutions it bailed out.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

Leave a Comment