Viral Pangs

As if Armstrong Williams, the Lincoln Group, VNRs of unknown origin, and artificial advocacy groups have not sufficiently tainted the public relations profession, the blogosphere is now awash with anti-PR sentiment that will make blogger-engagement in this burgeoning medium very difficult for even the most transparent of practitioners.

Over the weekend, the influential TechCrunch chimed in on the antithetical company PayPerPost whose business model entails paying bloggers to write about (its clients’) commercial products. No disclosure required. TC founder/editor Michael Arrington: “This ‘virus’ seems here to stay.”

This follows on the heels of the much-publicized banishment of PR professionals from Wikipedia by the founder of the definitive dynamic encyclopedia. And let’s not forget the brouhaha that resulted from that ill-conceived astroturfing effort to blog happy about that happy-faced retailer.

Then we have that perennially profane pot-stirrer “Amanda” linking to a Second Life lifer unceremoniously unloading on the arrival of corporate America to his virtual world: “They came late to a world they didn’t understand and hyped what they thought they saw without research, reflection, or understanding.”

How did it come to this? Why all of a sudden has the anti-PR vitriol surfaced in the blogosphere, on Second Life, and on Wikipedia? Is it a natural offshoot of the insidious ways of the Beltway boys? Can a public proclamation of adherence to WOMMA’s stated standards sufficient silence the naysayers?

Me thinks that the industry needs to take serious stock in our trade…before the brave new world we’ve stumbled into slams the door shut at a most propitious time in our history.