not all comms…
so if you’re into tech, you’ve probably read about facebook and lime using a communications firm called definers public affairs.
tldr they’re a low-rent firm taking advantage of the paranoia that is super pervasive in silicon valley. there’s been a rush of these types heading to the valley ever since trump took office. all bets are off. all tactics are welcome. and it’s no different than hiring a “growth hacker” or an “seo expert”. immediate gains with potential long term damage. but hey, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
this particular firm worked on romney’s presidential campaign and other political projects…a land where anything goes. a land where the more dirt you have on someone else, the more leverage you have to “win”.
all’s fair in love and war right? it’s just business, right?
these firms do the dirtiest of the dirty. don’t get me wrong, i’m not completely naive. i understand it’s completely fair and important to understand what your competitors are doing, how they’re doing it and if it works. and hey, sometimes as a communications person you talk to a reporter and simply point out a few things about a competitor that maybe nobody noticed. but you do that kind of thing from your own name, as a member of the company and you put your title and reputation to it. why? because it’s the right thing to do.
when you hire an outside firm to do what is basically private investigation work, you’re slime. that’s it. and to claim like facebook and lime have, that they had no idea what tactics the definers firm engaged in is a complete and utter lie.
i’ll say it again. facebook and lime say they had no idea what tactics definers engaged in on their behalves.
you see, when you hire a normal upstanding firm, you have a series of discovery sessions. you talk about goals, you discuss exactly what outcomes you’d like. maybe it’s a warmer fuzzier business piece about your ceo, since he or she had only been covered as a hardass. maybe it’s a series of articles about a partnership that sets your company apart but will take some onion layer style peeling to get to the heart of why it’s important. these are all normal engagements with communications/public affairs firms.
when you hire definers, these same discussions happen. only difference is the goals and outcomes. when definers sits down with a client, say lime, it’s very clear what the customer (lime) wants and what the provider (definers) provides. otherwise, why would the provider get paid money?
it’s very simple. and now they’re backtracking and making excuses? ha.
look at this very awkward on-stage interaction from disrupt berlin:
“as soon as we found out they were engaged in bad practices”
that’s like saying you hired a known hitman to water your garden and are shocked that they whacked the mailman. lie.
here’s the ultimate tell from that interview
we decided to move on,” he said, adding that Definers had been “recommended by top providers all the way around”.
top providers. like their investors perhaps? partner perhaps? coughUbercough.
look, business is a jungle. it can get nasty. opposition research is a thing. keeping tabs on competitors when there’s billions at stake is understandable.
but saying that you didn’t know what definers does is like saying you didn’t smoke crack because someone lit the pipe and held it for you.
not all communications has to be shady. in fact, the best firms aren’t. if you ask a reputable firm to take part in dirty tactics, they’ll say no or they’ll fire you. because life is long. so are memories.
so facebook and lime. both of you have done shady stuff before and after definers. why should we trust you at all? put your heads down and fix things that you’ve broken instead of worrying about everyone else.
and if anyone wants to share the full roster of definers, my dms are open. if you’re going to take part in these practices, why not be open about it?
oh, that’s right…